Andrew Waggonerâ€™s recent NewMusicBox essay deals with theÂ perils of entering most public spaces these days due to Â the onslaught of pumped-in music, Â most of it monotonously pop and largely negligible.Â Â Â Thereâ€™s an undertone of anger in the piece the author readily acknowledges, Â in that weâ€™reÂ not able to change the situation â€“ so we have to duck out, feeling somewhat impotent, so as to recoverÂ the quiet Â necessary for hearing inside oneâ€™s head.
Iâ€™ve also written about this, along withÂ other present-day vexations for a composer,Â over the past half-dozen years. Â Â (Most recently:Â Â Imaging the Composer Today, published this month in the IAWM Journal,Â a small tweaking of the Keynote address given last fall at the Â College Music Society national conference.)Â My take though, is a bit different:
I consider it a strength move to boycott the places which are the worst offenders. And I believe itâ€™s an act of confidence to create for oneselfÂ personal spacesÂ where serenity, contemplation and the required think-environmentÂ — so necessary to beginning a new piece â€“ can prevail.
Lutoslawski observed â€œPeople whose sensibility is destroyed by music in trains, airports, lifts, cannot concentrate on a Beethoven quartet.â€Â LargelyÂ true.Â But even as we bemoan the diminishment of the capacity for active listening en masse,Â we do,Â each,Â take steps toÂ preserve that capacity for ourselves.Â