Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Sharing the gift of music

Like every child of Adam, there's stuff I like, stuff I dislike, and stuff I really dislike. One of the things I like is good music of many different styles (classical, pop, country, bluegrass, blues, etc.). If you were to visit my digs and take a gander at my CD collection, you wouldn't doubt that I'm a music lover, but you might be surprised by how much of the time I spend with the music turned off. Although I enjoy music in certain situations, there are other situations, especially when I need to concentrate on a particular task, that I work best with a silent background. Now, I'm a single guy who has a house all to himself, so I'm usually in control of when the music is on and when it's off.

However, there are other situations when I'm not in control of the music. I lay much of the blame for these situations on the doorstep of the mad genius who invented the subwoofer. Why, oh why, do cars and SUVs need to have their cargo areas stuffed full of a speaker whose primary purpose seems to be to vibrate the neighborhood within a radius of at least a mile. I try to take good care of my hearing--I even wear ear protectors when I mow the lawn or whack the weeds--so for better or worse, I can hear both higher and lower frequencies quite well. I am reminded of my excellent hearing whenever one of these mobile monstrosities passes my car or my house.

At work, I sometimes run into a similar situation, although I can't think of any rational reason why there ought to be a problem. I work in Information Technology, so naturally everyone in my office has at least one PC, and every one of those speakers has a sound card with speakers attached. So far so good. It can be very useful to hear an alarm when new mail arrives or an appointment is approaching, and sometimes it's handy to be able to listen to the audio portion of an online technical seminar. On the other hand, it escapes me why a subwoofer is necessary for such work-related purposes. Answer: it isn't necessary, but it is nice, apparently, for non-work-related purposes such as entertaining oneself with background music, as some of my collegues sometimes have a notion to do. The resulting low-frequency barrage is rather similar to that I hear from the aforementioned buckets of four-wheeled bolts.

All this is bad enough, but some time after moving into my house, I discovered another possible source of uninvited bass, and in this case, midrange and treble: a neighbor who's a member of a rock band. He usually practices fairly quietly, but sometimes he gets the notion to crank up the volume a bit, the result is an ongoing stream of background, er, music for which I lack a remote volume control. Hmm, perhaps I should retract that last remark. Just recently, after stewing intermittently for several years about my neighbor's music, I walked over to his garage to inform him that I could hear his guitar playing in my house even though I had the doors and windows all closed. Any expectation I'd had of an argument was disappointed, because he readily volunteered to turn down his volume, and actually admitted that he didn't really need to have it turned up so loudly after all. Well, that was simple. Oh, the self-inflicted aggravation I could have avoided had I taken that walk years ago!

So, anyway, that's the "hate" side of my "love/hate" relationship with music. By the way, could you turn down your music? I'm trying to concentrate on writing a blog entry.


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