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Written on November 24, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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“Loud noises ‘bad for heart’ “ shouts this BBC headline, referring to research which shows that the threshold for noise levels ought to be dropped to around 65 decibels (busy office) rather than 85 decibels (roadworks).

They say nothing about loud music, but, having three days of rehearsals last week, played a gig on Tuesday, been to another last night (Souad Massi at the Marquee – really excellent – I must start to review these events properly) – I am now worried about my long-term prospects.

Once upon a time in Tenerife, I was audio engineering in very posh club in the beautiful Spanish, rather than the tacky British, tourist area. The band I was with played loud 80s electronic soul/funk/pop. The mirrored, marbled interior gave me a nightmare controlling the sound – too many reflections from hard unforgiving surfaces. Nonetheless, the band’s manager would without fail every night, ask me to turn up the music. Then the bar manager would appear ten minutes later and ask me to turn it down. I said yes to both of them, and did nothing.

After two weeks of this, one evening I got talking to a very nice guy on his annual holiday who worked for the Spanish airport authority. He loved the music. Work done, at 3am we all went on to another bar, wooden ceiling and panelling, full of people dancing and singing. It was loud but comfortably so, a far better audio environment. As we chatted I remarked upon the difficulties I was having in the other place and as he laughed, congratulating me on my good work, he said casually, “You are working at above 120 decibels. If this was a jet, it would be too loud – your music is ILLEGAL!”

There is a balance to be struck is there not – the great health benefits of emotional release, against the stress of the actual process of catharsis. I am sure Alfred Hitchcock films must have caused more than a few heart attacks – does that mean we should not be exposed to their tremendous artifice? Which reminds me of another tale, told me by a tremendous artist, about his mother. She was in the cinema with a female friend watching a Hammer horror film. At the end of the show, Peter Cushing, who had been sitting in the seat behind her, leant forward and said gently into her ear, “Did you enjoy that, Madam?”

She survived.

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One Comment

  1. karma
    Posted 25 November, 2005 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    vampires are illegal

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