A perfectly lovely place, with comfortable seats, sparse afternoon crowds, became a nightmare when they started blaring horrible, irksome and untasteful Christmas music. (I am particularly feeling murderous towards the person who composed “I saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus”)
It set me thinking about how musical tastes and genres have changed over eras and decades. I am not against popular music and culture, but I do believe that to some extent it’s turning us into a Deaf Generation.
A few weeks ago, I happened to come across a study which compared the dynamic levels of a pop song and a classical orchestra performance.
The pop song was “Bad Romance”. The classical orchestra performance was Wagner.
Not surprisingly, Bad Romance topped the Dynamics Chart with constant loudness throughout (only a slight dip near the end of the song), while Wagner had a much larger dynamic variation throughout the entire piece.
Imagine a generation growing up, with ears used to only the constant boom and bass of Bad Romances all over the world. They know nothing else. If something falls below the expected dynamic level, the question becomes: “Why so soft? Cannot hear!!”
Attention is cut off, immediately. A viscous cycle. Commercial places want to draw more crowds, so they play louder music. Music deemed “popular”. With strong bass. Fast. Groove and rhythm. Catchy.
What happened to the beauty of softness? The contrast between dynamics? The beauty of straining our ears to catch that desired melody?
This doesn’t apply to ALL commercial places and people, of course. I’m just generalizing.
Thankfully, there are still people and places around which appreciate the finer qualities of the human soul.