Quiet time- time to turn off the music?

by Jason Gross

19 November 2007


Bill Drummond’s been known to pull off some jokes not just as a member of KLF but also with his hi-jinks against the art world but he’s dead serious about what he calls “No Music Day,” which will be this Wednesday, November 21st.  For the last few years, he’s called on clubs, musicians and radio stations to lay off the tunes for a 24-hour period.  While this didn’t become a country-wide sensation in the UK, he’s convinced BBC Radio Scotland not to broadcast any music that day.  So is this a good idea or a nutty scheme?

A New York Times article goes into more detail about Drummond’s crusade, including a quote from the founder of the anti-muzak foundation Pipedown- a few years ago, I printed a screed by the organization in PSF.

To be honest, I had mixed feelings about this.  On the surface, it sounds kind of anal and/or loony.  I mean, each of us has our own taste in music which we can enjoy plus we’ve more or less made our peace with having to hear music in public places even when we don’t want to sometimes.  But part of Drummond’s thinking is that there’s too much music and I know what he means.  As a freelancer, I get lots of music sent to me plus I go out to explore a lot of music on my own, at venues and websites and listening kiosks and other places.  At the same time, I accumulate tons of music for pleasure or maybe future reference.  Even after that, I’ve already got piles, stacks and bookcases full of vinyl, cassettes (remember those?) and CD’s plus gigabytes of space on my computer and laptop, teaming with MP3 files.  Sometimes I wonder when am I going to get the chance to listen to everything or go back to old favorites or try to re-evaluate some music that I wasn’t sure about.  While it’s statistically impossible to hear even a fraction of all the music that comes out each year, it’s hard enough to keep up with your own collection if you’ve been at it for more than a few years.  It’s enough to drive you nuts.

So maybe giving yourself a rest from music for one day isn’t a bad idea.  Maybe you’ll appreciate it more or wonder why you don’t give yourself more of a respite now and then.  I’d hate to think that I would just give up my collection, not just because it took a few decades to accumulate (I’m a pack-rat at heart) but also because a lot of the things I keep actually give me some kind of pleasure or catharsis or intellectual space or background music or… hundreds of other situations and emotions I’ve gone through listening to song or albums and bringing back memories or making new ones.

I’m willing to try a day without music, even if I can’t remember to do it on Wednesday. 

So what would your life be without music (even temporarily)?

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