Friday, 21 November 2008

Silence is golden

I’m celebrating No Music Day.

It’s another prank of Bill Drummond’s. And, like most pranks of Bill’s, it’s actually very serious.
As he explained last year to Radio Scotland:

The reason for choosing the 21st November is that the 22nd is St Cecilia's day
and St Cecilia being the patron saint of music, there seemed a logic that we
fast from music on the day before we may traditionally have celebrated and given
thanks for music.
Why do we need to fast from music? Because we’ve got a surfeit of it. There’s so much around that you don’t notice it any more. And that’s a criminal waste of something that is actually very precious.

If it’s precious, it ought to be scarce. Then we might start valuing it more.

Music, like most of what’s good in our culture, has been commodified. I know I’m not saying anything original here: a lot of other people feel the same. If they didn’t, No Music Day would not have got the support it has.

I realised how far it had gone when I stopped at a chain pub one day on holiday (I don’t usually frequent these places: I was on the road; I needed food). It’s lunchtime. There’s background music playing. It’s a loop of what the management probably call ‘golden oldies’ or ‘sounds of the sixties’. It’s probably piped in from head office.

And they are playing ‘Venus in Furs’ by the Velvet Underground.

This is not a golden oldie. This is not the correct musical accompaniment to a baguette. This was never supposed to be safe.

That has to be proof that no-one is actually listening any more.

Choose not to listen. Then you might start hearing again.

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