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Monday, 6 June 2016


Giles Smith wrote a column in Saturday's times about muzak, piped music that is supposed to add to the atmosphere of browsing, shopping, drinking coffee, etc and declared that generally he is in favour of it. He was reacting to a decision by Marks & Spencer's new boss who decreed that muzak would be axed in M&S stores.  Customers, it appears, prefer silence. Smith goes on to defend the use of such music.

I am not a big fan of muzak, especially the penchant currently for screechy, shouty, wailing divas belting out lung-busting songs that come close to making ears bleed. If I come across one of these wailers at home, I have the remote control ready to click. But shops, including coffee shops, should stop that kind of noise, please.  Because that's exactly what it is - noise. It is not tuneful. It is very annoying.  If a shop is playing such "music". I walk out. Simple as that. Singers aiming for the Everest of notes strike bum notes in my orbit. Many sales have been lost as I have run for cover. So, good on M&S.

I have less of a problem with easy listening, easy-on-the-ear music that can be ignored. Screechy divas cannot be ignored. They screech to be noticed. That is what they do. They have no place as aids to shopping and cappuccino sipping.

Giles Smith mentioned Billy Joel, Michael McDonald, George Benson, Harry Connick Jr, James Last and Whitney Houston. He even mentioned pan pipes. All of these and a few more might just be acceptable to me but on balance I would rather have silence. Atmosphere, ambience, infotainment, in-store radio are all overrated and overdone.

A little while ago, I complained to Morrisons about the ear-splitting stuff they were pumping out of their overhead speakers. I suggested if they insist on these X Factor-type playlists, then drop the volume a few notches. In fairness, they listened and I have noticed on several trips since my complaint, the volume is much more comfortable.

Hopefully, more businesses will follow M&S and pipe down.

As I type, I hear, through my open window, several birds in conversation, sweet chirruping, pleasant, lovely and calming. Now, there's a thought. Birdsong might be the answer in shops and coffee shops. I could cope with that. Pile it high, sell it cheep?

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