sábado, 14 de fevereiro de 2009

The end of muzak? (2)

Following my previous post about Muzak Holdings filling for bankruptcy I feel the need to complement my previous  commentary. I have been involved in acoustic ecology studies since 1974. My interest in this area stemmed from two facts. Firstly, in those days I was disappointed with my "career" as a musician and composer. I felt that (my) music was becoming more and more meaningless, and that some sense of purposefulness was urgently necessary. Secondly, I sensed a gradual and growing public "deafness". People were talking, making music and other sounds but  they weren't listening. I became aware of the acoustic environment because I became aware of its mechanisms. You don't pay attention to your ears until they hurt, and ordinarily you shouldn't have to pay attention to the acoustic environment's mechanisms either. They're just there for grabs! 
The centre of the global crisis is deafness. No one's listening properly anymore. 
Your voice will never be heard unless you shout, with everybody shouting you close your ears, the more you close your ears the worst  the situation becomes. This situation has not changed in 35 years. It has probably become even worse.
Humans are sonic creatures. Look at us! Look at the workings and the extent of the evolutionary process on our listening and voice production apparatus. There used to be a balance between sound making  and listening. In balanced societies there's no such thing as noise and deafness. You produce whatever sounds you have to and listening  is not a capability you are discouraged to practice. Even some musicians, I feel, seem a bit deaf sometimes...
Within this seemingly atrocious panorama (purposefully distorted, I'll give you that, to help understand my point of view...)  professional sound makers have the greatest responsibility in producing purposeful and balanced sound. In music, radio, television,  the interactive technologies, but in fact in any situation in which human acoustic communication is involved we are probably the example everybody else would look up to. 
Muzak Holdings is not the cause of all evil in the world. They are probably even genuinely convinced that they have a positive role in society. But their product is no less toxic than sub-prime mortgages. If we detain ourselves over the problem of the production of useless, sonic garbage we must come to the conclusion that Muzak is its most successful example and its greatest symbol. 
Anything that can reverse this situation is thus more than welcomed. When one finds out that the greatest producer of sonic dump in the universe is closing its doors due to the competition of other companies, themselves about to close their doors also, one cannot but feel happy. 
You want to know why? Because we have enough competitiveness. We need solidarity instead. Solidarity is dialog and dialog is listening. 
Forget about global warming, the sub-prime crisis or financial toxic products. We have become totally deaf! Human sonic waste has clouded the Earth for long, it prevents acoustic communication channels from functioning properly, and yet we seem to neglect to see that this is the origin of many of our problems. 

Acoustic privacy is not mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and unfortunately there are no legal grounds for suing Muzak for attempted crimes against human rights, but that is just a legal matter...

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