"Musical Bug Spray"
Eileen Reynolds interviews the great Alex Ross about his new book, Listen To This, on trying to find something new to say about Mozart. Over at 3QD, Colin Eatock outlines one of many warning signs of troubling times for classical music today:
The use of classical music in public places is increasingly common: in shopping malls, parking lots, and other places where crowds and loitering can be problems. The TTC is by no means the only transit service to use the technique: in 2005, after classical music was introduced into London’s Underground, there was a significant decrease in robberies, assaults and vandalism. Similar results have been noted from Finland to New Zealand. ...
As a classical music lover, I’d like to believe that my favourite music has some kind of magical effect on people that it soothes the savage breast in some unique way. I’d like to think that classical music somehow inspires nobler aspirations in the mind of the purse-snatcher, causing him to abandon his line of work for something more upstanding and socially beneficial.
But I know better. The hard, cold truth is that classical music in public places is often deliberately intended to make certain kinds of people feel unwelcome. Its use has been described as “musical bug spray,” and as the “weaponization” of classical music.