musings of a professional bassoonist

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bach off, buster!

How to Handel loiterers? 

Give ’em a blast of the 


graphic from The Columbus Dispatch

According to a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch, some people view classical music as a deterrent to crime.  We've all read reports of classical music being blasted outside of subway entrances and convenience stores, with the apparent result of reduced loitering and the prevalence of peace.

Does this mean that classical music repels, rather than attracts, people?  NOOO!  That notion is absurd, seeing as how the convenience stores certainly do not wish to get rid of paying customers with their classical serenades.

The Dispatch article referred to classical music being played outside of the YMCA in downtown Columbus, where apparently there have been problems with loiterers.  I just happened to be walking past that YMCA yesterday, and I heard a rather rousing rendition of Eine Kleine Natchmusik being broadcast.  If the goal was to stop loitering, it was failing.  There were several men, very possible residents of the Y, standing around talking.  They weren't fighting or arguing or behaving in a menacing manner - they were holding a quiet conversation.  As far as I could tell, the music had a calming and beneficial effect.  If the goal was to restore peace, it was working.

In 2004, the British Transport Police piped classical music into the London Underground to see if the crime rate would be affected.  The result was that robberies decreased 33%, staff assaults decreased 25% and vandalism decreased 37%.  There have been similar reductions in crime elsewhere following the deployment of classical music in crime-ridden areas.

There have been studies conducted at numerous universities examining the use of different types of music to reduce stress.  The British Journal of Health Psychology reports that researcher Sky Chafin at the University of California, San Diego tested the effects of jazz, pop and classical music in reducing blood pressure following incidents which caused high levels of stress.  The participants listening to classical music recovered much more quickly than those listening to jazz, pop, or silence. 

Yes indeed, classical music has a measurably soothing effect, even on hardened criminals.

So do classical musicians have reason to become upset upon hearing that their music is being used as a crime deterrent?  Hardly!  I think we should be flattered.  Before we know it, symphony orchestras will be forming partnerships with their local police departments. 

Just think of the endless examples of classical music being used to sell products on TV.  In this example, the Verdi Requiem was used to sell Doritos during the 2011 Super Bowl:

Frito-Lay doesn't consider classical music a repellent!  So, classical musicians, stop worrying about your music being used as a repellent, and rejoice in its powers to soothe and to sell!



Tina B. said...

It's your Day of Wrath for teasing me with Doritos, bud! LOL...

Tina B. said...

Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. The Y probably wouldn't chooose Dies Irae from Verdi's Requiem, though! LOL