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Saturday Live

Muzak

  • JP
  • 23 Mar 07, 02:16 PM

Nigel Grant got in touch with us to let us know how much he hates any kind of muzak.

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  1. At 09:22 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Sue Kennedy wrote:

    About 55 years ago my uncle George described 'Musak' as 'music by the yard' which he hated. So it must have been around even then!! I now think of it under that description.
    Little did Uncle George know what revolution was starting!
    Sue Kennedy

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  2. At 09:32 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Sandie Deane wrote:

    One of the worst offenders is HSBC. Using Canary Wharf branch lobby after hours I have been subjected to loud, unwanted pop music. I have written to them to remind them are running a bank, not Topshop, but got an unrepentent reply. Interestingly, there is no muzak in the historic settting of their Poultry & Princes Street branch at their former head office in the City - where I now do as much of my banking as possible!

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  3. At 09:36 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Quentin Crisp wrote:

    "I have been to bars in Soho, whose denizens have crossed social and geographical barriers to reach them. In one, I have seen a girl sitting amid musical pandemonium with a book open on her knees and her little finger entwined with that of her true love. Of course, she was not really listening, not really reading and not communicating with her friend in any way that required effort or style. It would be hard to say whether the jukebox caused the death of human speech or whether music came to fill an already widening void - but unless the music is stopped now, the human race, mumbling, snapping its fingers and twitching its hips, will sink back into an amoebic state, where it will take a coagulation of hundreds of teenagers to make up a single unit of vital force - which, once formed, will only live on sedatives, consume itself on the terraces of football stadia, and die."


    Artist: Quentin Crisp
    Title: Stop The Music For A Minute
    Album: Pillows & Prayers (Volumes 1 & 2)
    Label: Cherry Red Records

    Listen here:
    http://secure1.mppglobal.com/ishop/202/Quentin-Crisp/Stop-The-Music-For-A-Minute-Music-Download/249542/ProductInfo.aspx

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  4. At 09:46 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Ian Rimmer wrote:

    Nigel should come and live in Germany where Muzak is a rarity.

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  5. At 09:55 AM on 24 Mar 2007, John Scotney wrote:

    In June 1990 Hull Civic Society launched its Campaign Against Loud Music (CALM) because we were fed up of loud background music in pubs, cafes and shops. The scheme involves the presentation to quiet pubs, cafes and shops of a CALM sticker showing a finger on a pair of lips superimposed on a line of music notation, with the words "It's CALM inside". CALM stickers on the door reassure people that they will be able to talk as they eat, drink or shop without shouting over loud music. Mercifully none of our shopping centres pipe music into the public spaces!
    It has been more effective than just complaining and new CALM stickers are still being awarded. Since then, I understand a campaign called Pipe Down has been launched in London.

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  6. At 09:55 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Mark wrote:

    What's muzak??

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  7. At 10:02 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Jean from Bedford wrote:

    Musak should be banned.
    I arrived at 3.45am at Gatwick North 2 weeks ago. On the first floor where the shops and coffee bars are sited with exception of a couple of shops and 2 coffee bars all were closed. Sleeping and resting bodies were lying on the available seating. MacDonalds however was open. There are no doors and it is sited next to the seating area. It was belting out thumping repetitive rap type music which I asked could be turned off , but no it couldn't. Is there no respect for weary travellers with yet further journeys to endure? I hope someone from Gatwick North gets to hear this or reads it because this is really the height of inconsideration. Musak should be stopped.

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  8. At 10:12 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Geoffrey Hunt wrote:

    I can throroughly recomment a book called The Quiet Pint. It contains details of pubs throughout the UK that do not play piped music and was written by Derek Dempster and Josephine Dempster. Amazon.co.uk lists it on their website.

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  9. At 10:34 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Nick Capocci wrote:

    Muzak can be a useful aid to navigation in modern Britain. It’s like a danger-buoy. Wherever it is, you can guarantee nothing intelligent is going on.

    Nick Capocci (professional musician)

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  10. At 04:08 PM on 24 Mar 2007, Monica Strawson wrote:

    I just refuse to shop where there is Muzak playing refuse to eat where there is MusaK playing etc etc.

    When I have bhad to go to such an establishment I have always asked for the noise to be turned down.
    The worst occasion was one in Selfidges when the sales assistant was downright rude. John Lewis on the other hand is a Muzak free haven.

    My worst night mare is when Im on a plane and it is waiting to take of and they insist on sending the most inane noise through the cabin, I've often wondered what would happen if I started screaming.

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  11. At 04:14 PM on 24 Mar 2007, mike westmoreland wrote:


    To “Saturday Live”
    24th March 07

    Re your item in todays programme concerning music in shops

    I often require to purchase textbooks on computing and Borders bookshop has much the the best local selection. Making a choice requires very careful perusal on the shelves to find the most useful item from a bewildering array of possibilities. This task is often made infuriatingly difficult because the loudspeakers play music with lyrics, and several times I have been forced to leave without a purchase simply because I cannot think clearly.

    Driven mad by this I complain but the assistants are unable to turn it off, or down, because it is “company policy”. In the end I confronted the manager, remarking that no self-respecting library would tolerate such interference with their readers concentration, and that bookshops should be no different. His answer?
    “this is not a bookshop, sir, its an entertainment centre”

    From Mike Westmoreland

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  12. At 12:22 PM on 25 Mar 2007, lizzie shirley wrote:

    All forms of back ground music produce a disincentive to talk to anybody, whether it is MUZAK or pop or jazz. We are talking to each other less and less, it's is quite frightening the way people do not communicate on public transport or shops or pubs and in general communal areas. Talking to strangers and aquaintances should surely help make us well rounded people...background music is only another device to alienate people from each other even more, mainly because it is usually too LOUD!!!! (I hate shouting a conversation,)
    it is also HEARTLESS and MECANICAL.
    Also in pubs, people spend more money on drink if they cannot talk to anybody.

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  13. At 05:54 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Wendy wrote:

    The thing that gets me about piped music is that it forces me to listen to it whether I want to or not. I suppose it is an invasion of my personal space - my mind in this instance. I share Nigel's sentiments.

    I have not looked in or walked out of shops because of the noise passing as music they force us to listen to.

    One step on from this, now that the longer evenings are upon us and the warmer weather lies ahead. It is not just the "musak" that makes the hackles rise, but being forced to listen to other people's inane conversations and booming music as the more thoughtless in our society treat their gardens as their living rooms without any consideration to noise levels and those living around them. They force you to listen to them whether you want to or not at any time of day or night .......

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  14. At 11:50 AM on 26 Mar 2007, Julian Treasure wrote:

    Interesting synchronicity between Nigel's guerrilla report and the launch of my book Sound Business ( see www.soundbusiness.biz) which led to my own appearances on BBC Radios 2, 4 and 5 on Friday.

    I absolutely agree with Nigel about the mindless playing of music without any understanding of its effect - and the poor quality of the systems delivering it in most spaces. My book is all about how powerful all sound is - especially music - and how most of the sound we encounter is unplanned, undesigned, even accidental. We do now know how sound affects people: there is an entire body of academic research in psychoacoustics and music psychology that allows us to choose sound much more wisely than we are at the moment.

    Unfortunately many spaces start with poor acoustics because many architects and interior designers (who have no training in applied sound) think only of the eyes. On top of these poor acoustics all too often comes mindless music, sold to establishments by music streaming companies on the basis that it creates 'atmosphere'. That it does, but very often it's the wrong atmosphere.

    Music can be highly appropriate if it's well-chosen to suit the function of a space, the people in it, the acoustics and the brand or values behind the space. The problem is that much more thought and science needs to be applied than is currently the case: many spaces which would be much better served by silence, by natural soundscapes, by better acoustics or by different music, are suffering from the retail and catering trades' collective worship of pop music.

    Another interesting social trend to consider is the altered relationship with music of young people who have grown up with iPods. To me, music is profoundly distracting because it's a foreground sound: I love it and I cannot help but listen to it. To them, it's the soundtrack to their lives - a background noise that has to be hugely loud in order to move into the foreground. I think this transformation of music into veneer is sad, partly because it devalues music and inspires the creation of a mass of passionless, mechanistic stuff; and partly because, as Quentin Crisp so eloquently writes above, it is one more way in which people are learning not to be present, connected and engaged with reality and in particular with other human beings.

    BTW, we should all be careful about using the word 'muzak' to describe mindless piped music. Muzak is in fact a company based in Seattle, and it's a registered trademark. They are the world leaders in piping music to public spaces, but my no means the only people who do this. Does anyone have any ideas of an alternative word we could all use?

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  15. At 02:16 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Martin Whatmuff wrote:

    Wendy makes a very important point. This is not just about piped music in shops and pubs (where arguably we have a choice whether or not to enter and do business with such companies); the issue is much further reaching.
    Many in our society not only seem incapable of functioning without having some kind of musical accompaniment to their lives, but also seem oblivious to the impact their noise has on others who may not want to hear it. Those who play music that can be overheard by their neighbours are an obvious manifestation of this, but in recent years the growth in popularity of the so-called 'personal' stereo means that there's often no escape from unwanted noise in public places - public transport in particular. What concerns me is that because there seems to be no appetite within the authorities to curb inconsiderate usage of iPods and the like, by default it now seems to have become acceptable for people to to play them at levels audible to others, and that those wishing peace and quiet should be tolerant.
    If I don't want to look at something, I can always avert my eyes; if I don't want to hear something, I don't have that option and that it's why noise is an invasion of personal space.

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  16. At 09:27 AM on 29 Mar 2007, Rachel Fenwick wrote:

    Perhaps I am a little late commenting on Musak. I went into a shop once, the only person shoppipng and when I got to the counter to pay the young man said" everything ok" , cerrtainly NOT, oh what is the problem, that awful noise coming out of the speakers, oh its is not so bad, well your opinion, in fact your are infringing my civil liberties, I dont wish to listen to your choice of music and I dont ask you to listen to mine. thinking for a moment he replied, i think you are taking your comments a little too far. . Not at all, i want music free shops and eating places at all times. bless those shops who dont play music I will shop in your establisment. I walk out of those who blast my ears until they hurt.

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  17. At 09:16 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Michael O'Malley wrote:

    I fully support Nigel's grumble. I've stopped frequenting pubs where music is played, partly because I can't hear with the din on offer and partly because of the musak that I'm forced to listen to, or rather the background noise that goes for music and which is forced on me.
    We ought to have an anti-music in public places pressure group. How about leading it Nigel?
    Mike O'Malley

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  18. At 05:21 PM on 31 Mar 2007, Nigel Grant wrote:

    Great to hear Fi Glover tell us today (Sat. 31 March) that Patrick Powell says he can't stand thirty somethings going on 75 whinging on about things.

    Whoa there Pat. Three points before you pick up the mike:

    1) I made the prog. and I'm 50 something, so thanks for the compliment. These digital cameras are great!

    2) So no ageist stereotypes then. What age do we have to be to be able to say what we don't like?

    3) Does your dislike cover people who whinge about people who whinge?

    Look forward to your show.

    Nigel

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  19. At 06:21 PM on 03 Jun 2007, jmg wrote:

    I did not hear this Saturday Live, but have read all the comments, which mostly I agree with. No comments about the torture piped music imposed on patients in medical practices or hospitals. I think in the main this has to be the worst. At least people have a choice or whether or not to enter a public house/restaurant/bookstore/department store/ bank which plays piped music but if you're ill, need to see a doctor and your practice happens to blast the music, there is no escape, no choice. Explanations of "it's to protect patient confidentiality" is an absolute nonsense. In our practice the reception is in an open area in the waiting room, patients and staff have to raise their voices to be heard, therefore the music is really counterproductive! One area in the basement is used for a consulting room, it has not been sound proofed, patients and doctors can be heard. So why not sound proof the room instead of imposing the boom, boom, boom of the piped music and stressing patients even more?

    Let's hope Lord Beaumont is successful in getting his Bill through the Houses of Parliament

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