It’s everywhere. It can’t be escaped. It destroys more souls than television and politics combined. And we are powerless to prevent it. Bad music.
Now everybody knows about bad popular music. Examples abound. Just go anywhere out of your own home and it won’t be but mere moments before it washes over you like a bucket of old dishwater. But bad sophisticated takes more searching.
Ever been to one of those antique engine shows? Or maybe heard a factory pressing widgets. Chickatidah-chickatidah-chickatidah or maybe Eree-eee-kurchunk-chunk-chunk-clink, Eree-eee-kurchunk-chunk-chunk-clink. Those of monotonous droning machines is what we’re after.
Keep that sound going in your head and add to it to the output of a soft jazz synthesizer programmed by a community college Computers-For-Dummies student after a long night bingeing on cold General Tso’s chicken and warm beer.
Have it? Let it ooze through your mind a little. Now infect the whole shebang with the ebola virus, let it bleed and fester a while, then kick it down a hill and into traffic on a busy Los Angeles freeway.
It’s now ready.
Can you hear it? Can you? Then you’re listening to the exact sound of the sophisticated murk leeching out speakers in not one, not two, but three world-class hotels I had occasion to be in over the past few months. The music was similar in each place that each hotel must shop for sounds in the same place. It isn’t only hotels, because I later heard the exact same noise nauseating shoppers in several separate gallerias, the sort where you do not ask the price of the merchandise. (I had to be in, and had to pass through these places, because of my labors.)
The music was full of echos, and occasional voices were heard in the distance, but they weren’t plain voices. They were filtered, warbling, ever fading, with indistinguishable words; more like sounds from some voodoo ritual. The key feature was repetition repetition repetition, with bumpa-bumpa-bumpa passages fading into one another like liquid in a fountain in some over-priced spa, all set to a needless beat.
This music is the visual equivalent of the award-winning “art” which adorns the front of with-it (do we still say “with-it”?), hip corporations and prestigious non-profits. Ugly, useless, and so expensive and celebrated that nobody has the guts to admit how awful it is. That the powerless and unwealthy complain of it is, perversely, taken as proof of its quality. That is it incomprehensible and in dire need of interpretation of experts is key to its desirableness.
The “art” has one advantage over the music, though. You can shade your eyes from it; you can look away; you can avoid it. The music—I call it that for convenience—is unstoppable, pervasive, non-ignorable. It is set at levels designated to penetrate the conscious. It can’t be shut off. It can only be escaped. Ask a clerk if the music can be “toned down” and you’ll receive apologies and told whoever is in charge of the volume cannot be consulted and that, anyway, the controls are hidden away or are unknown.
I have a suspicion that scientific “studies” were consulted to create the sounds. If they aren’t created by an algorithm, as suggested above, then it means some poor tortured soul is making it. Pray for this unknown person.