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rexpresso's avatar

Do you know of any study about ambient music on public transport?

Asked by rexpresso (920 points ) July 12th, 2010

I am of the intuitive opinion that soft relaxing good quality ambient music on trains etc. is a good thing to make into a norm.

I believe it reduces tension and ultimately will reduce violence, assaults etc. not to mention, to a certain degree, reducing the urge of some people to put music blasting from their cellphones.

I have been discussing this with friends and would like to sustain my feelings on some hard data.

If you know of anything, please let me know, and feel free to let your own personal opinion be heard.

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14 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“How music can effect our psychology and mental health disorders.

Music can have a calming influence and instill a feeling of well being. Our genetic makeup has a bearing in the way the brain processes music. Some listen to music as something light and in the background, for others we absorb every note, every emotion, and it becomes a deep part of our psychological profile.

It is not surprising, then, that some psychologists acknowledge and have written about the effect that music can have in mental health and how the chemical balance of our minds can be affected. Music can be a highly emotional form of communication.

On the positive side, music has been used both on a personal level, in education and in professional therapy, called, obviously, music therapy, to impart pleasant thoughts and to calm the mind. Music therapy is a specific branch of psychology that has already been developed and is being used in a clinical setting. ”

Association for Natural Psychology

Zyx's avatar

Yeah yeah, music=good. Really really obvious. The problem is that people’s tastes differ. Some idiots thought art in trains was a good idea so now we have pictures in our trains of cut up newspapers dipped in paint. Fuck that. (Netherlands btw)

Art stops being art the moment it’s put in the system. Art has it’s own rules and part of that is that no artist is better than any other. Anyone who actually cares knows the people throwing money around for paintings are idiots. The same things apply to music. Someone probably already thought of this because trains have internet now.

Really really bad idea, if I were an evil dictator I would probably shoot you. But then I would probably shoot a lot of people if I were an evil dictator.

rexpresso's avatar

Thanks for contributing to this discussion.

By the way I want to contribute with this link that I found.

Please keep the discussion coming.

Music on public transport hits the right note with Britons…
http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=93150

ipso's avatar

I think trains dishing out happy soma wholesale is a very bad idea, possibly deserving of culture jamming and property damage.

My first thought? See the movie THX 1138.

However.., it is entirely situational. It may well be appropriate on a 7–8am city train to combat very specific use of loud earphones in a crowded train, or just to break up the monotony (“artistically”), say music randomly three business days a month. It can be a great tool to “manage” the system – as long as the person(s) making the management decisions are fully aware of certain principles related to human dignity and Brave New World-ology.

I have lived in Tokyo using trains every day, and have grown a love for the mechanical ambient music trains create on their own, and the sounds of varying amounts of people within that. I loath the idea of whitewashing that “natural”, and beautiful, sound.

Jeruba's avatar

Since people have such widely varying preferences and there is no music that everybody likes, and for everything that one person enjoys, there’s somebody else who hates it, wouldn’t it be pleasing some at the expense of others?

Anything with a strong beat is inherently agitating rather than calming. Anything that is supposed to be “mellow” is apt to be saccharine and can be just as agitating for that reason. I don’t think most people like to be “handled” or made manageable by artificial means.

“Elevator” music that is supposed to offend nobody is seriously annoying to me. I hate to be in any place where they play it—department store, restaurant, theater lobby, airport. It would never literally drive me to violence, but it is certain to make me feel crowded and irritable. I’d rather just listen to the inevitable natural sounds of the place than have some trashy confection spread all over everything, with no escape except to make a louder noise.

Ambient music appropriate to a setting is a different matter (for example, chamber music in a nice restaurant). One-size-fits-all aural pablum that no one would listen to voluntarily is no improvement over honest train noise.

zophu's avatar

Well, I don’t know. Like how sedatives will cause some people to freak out in rebellion to the effects the drugs are having on them, I get fucking enraged at “calming” grocery store, elevator, on-hold type music. Whoever this “Kenny G” is . . . die

I also get sick with a lot of other types of music. I literally get mildly physically ill. Even when I’m not consciously aware of what’s playing. It’s like a miasma in a room with speakers playing certain types of music. Actually, just any shitty music does this, I think. I can enjoy music from any genre, it’s just some of it from any genre that drives me fucking insane. The cheap, non-meditative-repetitive shit.

Maybe I’m “special” when it comes to this, but I bet there are varying degrees of this reaction within the general population. Playing music invasively in any public area seems unwise.

Jeruba's avatar

“Invasively.” Exactly, @zophu. That’s just what I was talking about—inescapable elevator music. It’s forced on you, and you’re defenseless.

zophu's avatar

@Jeruba if a saxophone solo started playing, I’d start a riot. not to rebel, just to cover the noise.

evandad's avatar

As long as it’s good. I would be fine with it. If it was low volume BS techno with waves in the background it would drive me crazy.

faye's avatar

I wish the whole world would be happy with silence. I think having music not of our choosing every where we go is setting up crazy rage that we don’t even know is there thus making us ill. Why can’t I listen to how the train sounds, or quiet in the elevator!!

Jeruba's avatar

@faye, I agree with you that a nonstop onslaught of sound exhausts us and fuels unacknowledged rage. (I think the same about traffic and congestion.) A great lesson that I learned in the days following major surgery was how much energy it takes out of you just to withstand the sensory demands of ambient noise.

I can’t seem to find it now, but I had a page from a calendar of daily quotations that I posted on the outside of my cubicle at my last job. It said “Silence is the essential ingredient of happiness.” There was never very much happiness in my cubicle neighborhood.

rexpresso's avatar

This thread gives me matter for a deep reflection and potentially a serious study when I can invest funds on it… Thank you all : )

RedmannX5's avatar

I actually just ran a psychological experiment on this very subject for an undergraduate degree. Participants in my study 1) heard either a slow tempo original music composition or a fast tempo original music composition (both songs were identical in every other musical aspect though, i.e rhythm, timbre, loudness, pitch, etc.); and 2) either tapped their finger to the beat or remained motionless. And then I measured retrospective time estimations, meaning that participants reported how long they thought the duration of the song was after they listened to the song.

The results suggested that the participants who heard the slower tempo song perceived time as elapsing faster than it actually was, and vice versa for those who listened to the fast tempo song. In addition, finger tapping increased the accuracy of the retrospective time estimations. Ultimately, these findings suggest that slower tempo background music alleviates some of the stress that comes a long with waiting situations (e.g. sitting on a train), since people perceive time to elapse quicker when listening to it. Pretty interesting huh?

If anybody would like to know more detail about my study, go ahead and send me a message.

Shippy's avatar

I for one would love that, also in restaurants and other public places and most times the music is too heavy I feel.

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