Friday, 30 April 2010

Keep The Noise Down!

I see that the ‘Elf & Safety Brigade are at it again, this time having yet another attempt at getting us to turn the volume down on our ipods. This has been going on for years now in a constant war to save our ears. The usual scientist has been wheeled out to tell us that some of us are subjecting our ears to noise levels greater than those produced by a pneumatic drill. And do you know why we have to turn the volume up so high?  It is so that we can hear the damn thing over the NOISE OF A PNEUMATIC DRILL. Has this scientist walked around London recently? If so, he would realise that the Capital is a vast and un-ending building site where reconstruction and road works are a constant activity involving kango hammers and power tools of all descriptions and the noise is deafening.


Perhaps this scientist is not a commuter? Try listening to an ipod on the Tube and you will soon realise how incredibly noisy the London Underground is. Listening to music with a decent dynamic range is almost impossibility as you rattle and roar your way along dark tunnels between stops. No wonder we are subjecting our ears to in excess of 120Db – it’s because we can’t hear the bloody thing over the noise of the 21st Century!

Clearly, I am being flippant as there is a serious point to be taken on board to do with tinnitus and deafness generally so do be careful, but it would help us all if the world wasn’t so damn noisy in the first place.

In fact, all this makes you realise just how noisy our world has become. If we were to construct a telephone line that could reach back into history, say, 1,000 years and engage in a conversation with someone from that time, one thing would be immediately apparent: the world 1,000 years ago would be virtually silent. There would be virtually no music as this was largely confined to ecclesiastical establishments like churches and monasteries. There would be no radio, television, industrial machines, cars, aircraft, mobile phones, pneumatic drills, lawnmowers, chainsaws or anything that we today take for granted and which makes an almighty racket. All that would be heard would be the sounds of nature and the odd person killing another person with a huge sword.

Compare that with what the person at the other end of the line would hear of our world. What he would be utterly amazed to hear is an absolute cacophony of sound from a multitude of sources. So remember to speak up when addressing the fellow as he won’t hear you over the din.

11 comments:

YourZenMine said...

As a tinnitus sufferer, I know the damage loud music can do to one's hearing. I try very hard to watch the volume of my MP3 player but the world, as you've pointed out, is such a loud place, I often find myself pushing the volume to its limits.

I am looking to purchase some noise-cancelling headphones, which should help (apparently). But these don't come cheap.

Maybe the elfs in question should get themselves some earplugs and get a life.

YourZ

musicobsessive said...

YourZ - sorry to hear about the tinnitus - I really can't think of anything worse for a music lover unless it is total deafness. Do try the noise cancelling headphones as I hear they do work (to a degree at least!) and will allow you to give your ears a bit of a rest.

Bloody 21st Century!

Jeff said...

I've always been wrestling with how loud I should be listening to music. I always want to listen to my music at the max volume, but seeing the amount of people who suffer from tinnitus is a bit scary. I try to limit the loudness to when I'm walking in the city to work - because as you mentioned, it's loud out there! I also have a tendency to listen to my music pretty loud in the car, and maybe I'm fooling myself, but I figure since it's not through headphones that maybe I'm not doing as much damage. Great post though!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jeff - bit of a tricky one this. I like a bit of a blast with the best of them but always find that a slight ringing afterwards scares me off for a period. Trouble is, you only have one set of ears and when they're shot...

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Interesting blog in spite of the fact that I'm the world's most unmusical person.Funnily enough I have a 'bar' that has a juke box, wind up gramaphone and walls covered in vinyl records. Plus I've still got a crush on Ruby Murray!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Grumpy! Thanks for your comment. Don't worry, you don't have to be musical to enjoy music - that's why it appeals to so many people. You bar sounds great!

Charlie said...

I have tinnitus. I don't know if its from listening to loud music through my headphones when I was a college DJ or from my lawn mower. The Elf & Safety Brigade have a point although I still often listen to my music too loud, especially in m car. I still hear conversation fine.

musicobsessive said...

Oh Charlie, not you as well? Just goes to show what a common problem it is. I always used to stuff a bit of cotton wool in each ear when I went to a gig and felt a fool doing it - but now I'm very grateful that my younger self took such a precaution.

Perplexio said...

Actually, I believe you'd hear a much different cacaphony of sound from 1000 years ago. You'd hear more birds chirping and other assorted wildlife noises. All of this noise pollution has largely scared much of the wildlife deeper and deeper into the forests where we, of course, can no longer hear them over our own human created deafening cacaphonous din.

A few summers ago my wife & I climbed a mountain in the Adirondacks together. It was my third time and her first time climbing that mountain. As we sat and ate our lunch enjoying the view at the summit she remarked that she's never experienced such quiet before in her life. If you ever get the chance to experience that level of quiet, I highly recommend it. As much as I love music, even my favorite music out there doesn't compare to the symphony of nature that God/Mother Nature/deity of choice has composed for us.

musicobsessive said...

You are absolutely right, Perplexio. I've never been anywhere where it has been deathly silent - I think it might be a bit scary. The closest has been atop a mountain in Switzerland but even then there is the continuous clanking of cowbells - and they're man-made!

Perplexio said...

I grew up in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. It's a somewhat remote region of NY state (about a 5-6 hour drive north of Manhattan, and about an hour and a half to 2 hours south of Montreal, Quebec). It's incredibly beautiful and peaceful up there. The peace is a serene, not a scary one. I'd feel more spooked in a quiet cemetery or an old abandoned house.