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A World Without Music? Unimaginable

14th May 2020

John Lennon may have imagined a world without possessions, but he certainly never could have envisaged a world without music. Ever since the very first use of musical instruments that may have been as long as 43,000 years ago, music has been inextricably woven into human life.


Over time, music has expanded into countless genres and styles and been put to endless uses but it may still be that many people don’t quite appreciate how integral it is to human existence. But a world without it would be, quite simply, impossible to imagine. Obviously, it would mean no more concerts, albums or music radio, but this would also change everything from the way we watch films and TV programmes to our shopping habits.


While there’s a great deal of film music that has entered the public consciousness, with the work of composers like John Williams being a prime example, it works in a far more subtle way too. Often we simply fail to notice just how music and sounds are being used to heighten tension, suggest the moods of the characters we’re watching or foreshadow action about to unfold. There’s even a theory that the very best musical scores should be almost subliminal in the way that viewers hear them, adding to the experience but not drawing attention to the sound.


On the other hand, if shops were to suddenly have no music we might not appreciate it at first, but we would notice a change in our behaviour. Numerous studies have found that the style and tempo of the music played affects how quickly we move round the store and how engaged we are with the shopping experience. So supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, which rely on a fast throughput of customers, will play music with a faster beat while fashion stores wanting to encourage browsing will use a slower-paced soundtrack.


For those video gamers amongst us, it also often goes unnoticed just how much thought has gone not just into the visuals and the action, but into the music too. In much the same way as in movies, it’s used to create excitement and define mood and tone. Try playing with the sound turned off to appreciate just how much it does contribute to your game of choice. In fact, in the case of popular franchises such as Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, there are even classical orchestras performing the iconic scores around the world. Similarly, the increasing sophistication of online slots games, which have more and more in common with video games, means these are somewhere else that music is very important. In some the link is obvious – take, for instance, The Voice slot that's available on Buzz, which is themed around the reality TV singing competition. Others use music to create nostalgia, for example with numerous games featuring Elvis Presley and his music to hark back to the late '50s and '60s.


Of course, there are some forms of music that we might be glad to do without including many of the infuriating jingles from TV ads that lodge in our brains. A classic example is this 1980s gem for Glade’s Shake ‘n’ Vac carpet cleaner: once heard, never forgotten.


But, cheesy jingles notwithstanding, a world without music would definitely be infinitely poorer in so many ways. Fortunately, it’s never likely to happen.

Posted by Mark at 12:13pm

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