Music should fit the mood


By David Lindeman

Contributing columnist

No matter where you go these days, you’re almost certain to hear some kind of music.

Restaurant? Grocery store? Doctor’s office? Walking around the square in downtown Troy? Music. Everywhere.

Now, I like music as much as the next guy – maybe even more than most – but sometimes I wonder who exactly is deciding what kind of music to play where.

Here’s an example. I was in the dentist’s office not long ago. I would guess I’m not alone feeling a little nervous when I go to see the dentist. So I’m in the waiting room and they’re playing some kind of pop-disco-rock stuff, pretty much unidentifiable except for the bass line and percussion. It is not the kind of music a dentist’s office should play.

There should be a rule that all dentist’s offices play soothing, maybe even boring, music. A little classical music would work, although it would be a good idea to stay away from Richard Wagner. Something to calm your nerves and bring the blood pressure down a little bit.

The same goes for doctor’s offices. My wife had to have some surgery done recently and as we sat in the waiting room we were treated to some kind of pop music competing with the television in the corner, which featured game shows with contestants jumping around and making all kinds of noise. If you weren’t anxious when you came in the door, you would be by the time they called your name.

It seems like it is inevitable when I have to make a phone call because the Internet is out, someone in Singapore is using my charge card or they shipped a saxophone to my house instead of a pair of socks, I get put on hold. When you’re on hold, they usually play very loud and annoying music, probably to get you to hang up. This only irritates me more but it usually works out because often the person on the other end of the line is from some foreign country and they don’t understand my insults, anyway.

Some places have it figured out. Elevators, for instance, have been doing the right thing for years. When you stuff 10 people into a little box without windows — including three who have neglected to take a shower for a week or so, one who can’t stop coughing, one who has soaked herself with some kind of perfume which sends another person into sneezing fits, and who knows where the other ones have been – you’d better not send “La Grange” through the speakers at full blast. Soothing, boring music, maybe with some clandestine sedative vapor released in the air vents, is the way to go.

I understand why grocery stores play upbeat music. They’re hoping to charge you up and make you feel good so maybe you’ll upgrade from ground beef to that ribeye. Playing Christmas music in department stores and over the speakers downtown helps put people in that holiday, or should I say spending, spirit.

But there are some places where there is just too much music. I went to an NBA game a few years ago and they cranked out music almost the entire time. I just wanted to watch a game, maybe hear the ball hit the floor and the tennis shoes squeak and the guys calling out the picks, but there was no way. I felt like I went to a rock concert and there just happened to be a few guys out there playing basketball in the middle of it.

It gets so bad that sometimes my wife and I go on a hike to find a perfect, quiet place. This is not all that easy to do in Miami County. There’s almost always the highway or a train in the distance or a plane flying overhead or some guy who apparently follows us around with his chainsaw. But we have discovered a couple places that are almost always completely quiet, except for maybe birds and bugs, which don’t count. Or maybe they’re not so quiet, it’s just that we’re older and we don’t hear as well as we used to after being exposed to decades of loud music. But’s that OK; what I can’t hear sometimes is music to my ears.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].

No posts to display