It's part of human nature to want to be heard, and in today's world it's not that difficult for that to be done. Twitter and Facebook keep us informed about each other's current activities and opinions, as do blogs. Artful expression is also shared over the internet and through live exhibition, not to mention all of the television (and now YouTube) advertisements we have to sit through, all in an effort to be heard. There comes a point, though, when what someone is trying to put across is simply too much!
As you probably know I'm spending the holiday season in Memphis, and living in Memphis means eating a lot and hearing a lot of live music. I love supporting local art, don't get me wrong, but for three nights in a row I felt like I needed to stuff my ears with tissue. On the final night of very loud music (last night) I began to ask myself why I felt this way. As a musician, I would want people to listen to what I have to play for them, just the same as they want their audience to listen to them. I guess it has something to do with my being classical musician (I sound like such a snob haha). One of my favorite things to do in Memphis is to go to the Mollie Fontaine Lounge on Wednesday nights to hear a few of my friends from college play a sort of jazz trio - it's really really great music. I'm not offended at all by their volume, and I think it has something to do with the classical training involved in their development.
Of course, it is completely possible that I'm more interested in talking to my friends than listening to the music often times, but maybe music is actually getting louder - even classical music! Orchestra and Wind Ensemble concerts I've gone to have been pretty loud to my ears, and we live in a society of airplanes and dynamite. What would performances of today's classical music sound like to people who have never heard anything louder than thunder? Back when opera performances were merely side shows to the social event that was opera, did they want the singers to tone it down a bit so that they could talk to each other? It's a fact that playing extra soft (unless you're a clarinet I guess) is more difficult than playing comfortably loud on wind instruments. I would imagine it's similar for string instruments, and maybe even the voice. Busting in the front door angrily is much easier than sneaking in after midnight, right? The list of comparisons goes on forever. Is all of this related? Do we find comfort in things being loud? Who knows...
I hope no one thinks I'm hatin' on anything or anybody - that's why I didn't mention the bands I've heard lately (which all sounded good by the way), but I think our volume is something we need to be aware of. Next time you're hanging out with a group of friends, talk softly and see what happens. See if you can get to your desk at work without anyone knowing. When you open that perfect gift this Christmas, give a response that shows intense, soft excitement, instead of a huge scream.
...or not, because I have Rihanna turned all the way up right now. haha
Listening to: Only Girl in the World