No More Music: Now More Than Ever, A Good Idea

jharv | November 19, 2007 11:30 am

A good idea and a frustrating one! Because this Wednesday will be the third “No Music Day,” as masterminded by the KLF’s Bill Drummond, where he encourages people to get off the musical pipe by shutting off their stereos and otherwise avoiding it the best they can. And though in the past it’s seemed like the only way to pull off No Music Day would be to seal yourself up in a soundproof room for 24 hours with a good book and a bottle of scotch, the event finally has “practical consequences” in 2007, at least for listeners in parts of the U.K.

But that one day will be significant this year in Scotland, with BBC Radio’s decision to abstain from music. The producer responsible, David McGuinness, said it would mean “no songs, no bands, no orchestras.”

“But it will also mean no music in trails and no jingles to introduce the news, which will make a qualitative difference to the little bits of sound furniture that make up a radio station,” he said. “We’re also closing down for the day the BBC Scotland music Web site, which is a huge music portal. And to get the message on the streets we’re sending out a No Music Day squad to effect citizen’s arrests of people wearing headphones.”

In other words, a stunt.

“No, absolutely not.” Mr. McGuinness said. “Of course there’s an element of fun, or I hope there will be. But there’s also a very serious statement here. We want people to realize how ubiquitous music has become, how it invades their lives in ways they don’t realize, and we want to challenge them to stop and think what that means, to consider how they might become more informed in their choices. These are important things. No way are they a stunt.”

Important, yes, but c’mon dude: totally a stunt. In many ways the BBC joining in on No Music Day just emphasizes the cheeky futility of the campaign on any kind of mass scale, especially for a country without a state run radio station. And even if we Americans could get Clear Channel to agree to kneecap their profitability for a single day, I’d still be listening to my next door neighbor blaring Alice In Chains’ “The Rooster” right now. David Toop devotes large parts of his essential Haunted Weather to the inability to get any peace in world that’s always got the ambient musical/industrial soundtrack cranked full volume, and like most trends relating to modernization, there’s no real turning back, hence why I spend 75 percent of my time outdoors with earbuds jammed in (at least when I’m alone). A world where I’m defending myself against sound by immersing myself in sound isn’t bad so much as the only world I’ve ever known. If Drummond wants to start a “No Blogs Day,” however, I’m all for it. (Just make it a Friday so I can have a three day weekend, Bill.)

Who’ll Stop The Ring Tones [New York Times]