The other night, I stopped at my local UDF, a chain of convenience stores and gas stations. As I walked out, I heard a Beethoven violin sonata coming from the speakers hanging by the front door. They play classical music to keep people from loitering outside, because, really, who could stand to listen to that? I’ve run into this in other places (you may have, too – please post them in the comments!).
Apparently, this practice has a scientific basis – an article in the Toledo Blade explains the effectiveness of “audio aversion.”
Here’s a helpful explanation from a Columbus, Ohio resident: “There’s something about baroque music that macho wannabe-gangster types hate. At the very least, it has a calming effect.”
If you had any questions about our art’s need for a re-branding, this should convince you! First of all, to rebut this idea that classical music is “relaxing” – I offer you a playlist of the LEAST calm concert pieces I could think of, including a very famous work by Vivaldi, who is often mistakenly put in that “relaxing” bin.
Now, to the UDF issue – here’s what I propose. If you live near one (or another place that does this sort of thing), go get yourself a milkshake and stand outside listening. Let’s turn this thing on its head and stick around for the music, instead of being chased away by it. Or bring the music on the playlist and play it in your car with the windows down to offer an antidote to all that “relaxation.” Who knows, maybe we can get UDF to include Bartok and Stravinsky in their rotation, or at least persuade some customers to give classical music a second thought. Thoughts? Please post your comments!