Tag Archives: Research

Medical Music

When sitting in a chair in my dentist’s office—I mean the chair that brings Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man to mind—the ambient audio system is always playing a lite rock station. Most of the music is of a sufficient sweetness to engender even more cavities in one’s molars. But it is a temperate drone behind the whining of the drill that sounds like it is about to shatter that porcelain spit bowl to my immediate left. Over the years I have spent far too much time in such a chair. I am confident that I have helped put my dentist’s children through dental school. I have heard a lot of that music.

Which brings me back to Marathon Man and the scary things that can happen with sharp implements, as it leads to a recent study conducted on surgeons by Spotify.

Specifically, the research was on what music surgeons listen to while performing their work in operating rooms.

It isn’t soft rock.

The number-one genre among the surgeons for their OR time is rock.

Over 700 responses came from surgeons who are registered with Spotify.

And looking at the top 10 list makes me shutter and hope that I don’t need anyone slicing into me—not that I dispute, wholly, their taste in music, but just that it seems that the nature of the music that they prefer has beats that might make things go somewhat awry should the doctors become too deep into the sound.

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“Write a Catchy Chorus, HAL”

In NASCAR racing, which went into official existence in 1948, 1972 is identified as the start of the “Modern Era.” The series has yet to become postmodern, but that’s another argument for another digital venue.

The troubadour tradition, that of a musician who sang and played a stringed instrument, goes back at least to the 11th century. One could make the argument that the “Modern Era” for troubadours, or, more to the point of this, singer-songwriters, started in 1962, the year the first Bob Dylan album was released.

When it comes to much music since then, whether it is a Dylan or a Paul Simon or a Jackson Browne, individuals who write and perform their work, or a band, ranging from the Beatles to Wilco and some before and after, it is probably the case that when we hear the music performed, we think of that music, especially vocals, coming from an individual who, in some significant way, has something to do with those lyrics.

To go to the classic case of the Beatles, it was either a “John song” or a “Paul” song, and when it was George or Ringo. . .well, there really weren’t enough of them combined to have a significant effect.

Tweedy is trying to break our hearts.

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Just Try Not to Listen

The level of commerce that is associated with rock and roll is something that is best not thought about. It’s sort of like the old line that you never want to go into the kitchen of a restaurant—regardless of whether it has three Michelin stars or it is a McDonald’s—because you’re likely not to have much of an appetite as a result of what you’ll discover.

So it is best that we enjoy the filet—or the Filet o’ Fish—without much consideration beyond the object itself.

It is best that we enjoy the work of our performers without knowing what it is that has gotten them in front of us, assuming, of course, that the performers in question are those who have visibility that is perceptible beyond a small group of like minds.

But sometimes it is bracing to see how things are.

Case in point: the boiler plate description of Clear Channel Radio. This is how that company describes itself:

“With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Radio has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. The company’s radio stations and content can be heard on AM/FM stations, HD digital radio channels, Sirius/XM satellite, on the Internet at iHeartRadio.com, and on the iHeartRadio mobile application on iPads, and smartphones, and used via navigation systems from TomTom, Garmin and others. The company’s operations include radio broadcasting, online and mobile services and products, syndication, event and promotion creation and operation, music research services and national television, radio and digital media representation. Clear Channel Radio is a division of CC Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB:CCMO), a leading global media and entertainment company. More information on the company can be found at www.ccmediaholdings.com.”

Sort of sounds like that Skynet from the Terminator movies. Or, to take another science fictional analogy, the Borg. Resistance is futile.

This past weekend Clear Channel launched iHeartRadio, its competitor to Pandora. And it just didn’t hold a press conference followed by a cocktail party.

Rather, it held a two-day event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It calls it the “inaugural iHeartRadio Music Festival.” A music festival in a stadium in a casino seems a bit odd, but there it was.

The event started with the Black Eyed Peas. It closed with Lady Gaga. And in between there were performers ranging from Jay-Z to Sting, from Kelly Clarkson to Jeff Beck, from Jane’s Addiction to Kenny Chesney. It was hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

That’s entertainment circa 2011. Sure, it’s long been this way. Just not so widely and well packaged.

My advice: Stay out of the kitchen.

Did Sha Na Na Invent the Fifties?

BowserIf you enjoy post-moderism and meta-history you’ll appreciate this. Two of the founders of the original revival band write an article for their alma mater’s journal wherein they discuss a couple of recent scholarly publications (Happy Days and Wonder Years: The Fifties and Sixties in Contemporary Cultural Politics by Daniel Marcus and Retro: The Culture of Revival by Elizabeth E. Guffey) that both “contain extensive studies of Sha Na Na’s ‘Fabricated Fifties'” and claim that Sha Na Na played “an unusual role in 20th century American history. More precisely, in inventing it.”

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