Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Practice: Sweet Silence--Sonic Gold of Our Time

In a previous post I spoke about the noise level with many businesses.  I have reached the point where I wouldn't even want to work for business or organization where I must listen to music all day long.  Don't get me wrong, I love music and I feel passionate about it.  However, too much music is hardly a good thing and can lead to fatigue.

As this topic has occupied my brain for some time, today when I was placed on hold for a company I called and had to listen to the company's advertisements and music blasts, I decided to write this post for businesses who still don't get the concept of silence.  And then they wonder why 15 minutes later (hold time) they deal with irate customers.  I would like to see the psychological studies that prove that customers enjoy staying on hold while having advertisements blasted in their ears along with music they might have never liked in the first place.  And who decides the best music for the diverse customers or clients who phone a company or organization?

Even with my love of music, I want to be the one who chooses what I expose myself to.  I want to be the one who chooses what I listen to and when and I will actually favor a business that understands the concept of silence (a commodity these days) over a business who forces me into a sonic environment against my will.

10 Ways Businesses Can Improve Their Sonic Environment

1. Replace 1960s-80s pop and rock music with ambient sounds such as birds singing, chimes or silence

2. Replace pop or rock music on phone systems with silence or chamber music

3. Replace corporate ads with silence on phone systems (you’ll end up with happy customers on the other end who were placed on hold for over 10 minutes)

4. Salons and spas can go with ambient nature sounds or sound healing CDs which are relaxing for your clients

5. Try silence or chamber music in medical or dental waiting rooms

6. Avoid commercial radio stations at all businesses and especially avoid news stations which are depressing

7. Record stores can play what ever music they choose, but at a lower volume so that customers can think while they shop

8. Classical or jazz music works best for bookstores, restaurants and cafes

9. If you want calm customers play calming music

10. If you’re not in the business of selling music then opt for silence, something that is underrated and much appreciated in this hyped up and chaotic noisy world.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In review--Dances and Finger Twisters

Julian Cochran
Extracts From Romanian Dances,
Animation Suite and Mazurkas
Independent release

English pianist virtuoso/composer Julian Cochran gazes fondly at Eastern European folk dances and 19th and 20th century composers who composed mainly for piano.  While Cochran has a good ear for delightful and playful melodies, his compositions don't stray far from piano works by Liszt, Ravel, and Prokofiev.  In fact, my first impression of the opening piece, Russian Toccata (on the CD Extracts from Romanian Dances...) reminded me of Prokofiev from the first quirky piano phrase, and since I like Prokofiev, I mean "quirky" as a compliment.  While the pieces here are obviously finger-twisters, in their complexity and speed, Cochran plays with these pieces with gleeful abandonment.

The folkloric dances appear on tracks 3 through 7 and for this section, I'm reminded of Chopin's dreamy piano works.  The only problem I have with this recording is that it's too short and feels more like a sampler than an actual recording.  I would like to see these pieces further developed (although Maelstrom 1, the closing piece feels fully developed while blending French Impressionism with late Romantic Era Russian).  As they are, they sweep past me, leaving me almost breathless.  I would like to see one of the major classical labels pick up this artist and produce an album that last longer than 30 minutes.