Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Magpie 48


“Music hath charms..?” Not always.
I was reading a restaurant reviewer recently and came upon this sentence in his review: “…rock music that blasts you out of your seat doesn’t enhance an otherwise pleasant ambience”
Right on, brother.

A few weeks ago we literally fled – I believe that’s the right word, fled – from a similar restaurant when the loud heavy-metal music drove us to the door. We weren’t able to finish the meal; I just paid the bill and we left.
I got to thinking later, if I ran a good restaurant and I wanted to provide the right kind of background music for my clients, what type of music could I use that would please everybody? Or at least, not irritate a large percentage of them?
An older couple might like the soft strains of a Mozart string quartet in the background; some might prefer for their meal the familiar melodies of Celine Dion or some similar artist, and there are those who would always like what we know as “elevator music,” soothing and basically dull. But in addition, as I learned a few weeks ago, for many the music has got to be loud and clanging or it isn’t really “music.”

So, as to the question, what type of music could I as a restaurant-owner use to please everybody, the answer is simple.
There is no such thing.
I vote for trying silence. It might catch on.
What’s your opinion?

29 comments:

Pearl said...

In a hectic world, I think we overlook the importance/value of silence.

Pearl

Jedediah said...

I love loud music at parties and I love music that a lot of people would describe as noise (Industrial and EBM - listen at your own risk!). But in a restaurant? Quiet please. No music at all is perfectly fine.

Helen said...

Give me soft, gentle, quiet jazz ... no more than four musicians. Aids the digestion!

Kay L. Davies said...

Silence is a good choice. When the room is full of diners chatting to one another, servers asking questions and delivering the results, and knives and forks tinkling on china, there's no need for additional noise of any sort.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Deborah said...

I couldn't agree more, silence and maybe a ... conversation. Radical I know! :o)

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

I love music, but as much as I do, I hate when 1) the genre is not appropriate for the environment 2) the volume is NOT appropriate for the moment... silence in a restaurant, however, can be as overwhelming as loud music... hmmm what to do... what to do... I would say, the volume card is the perfect middle for it!

alphawoman said...

It all depends on which type of restaurant you are patronizing. I do not consider myself old, but I like a Mozart sting quartet in a fancy place - set's the tone. In an Italian place some sappy or snappy Mediterranean music would suffice. If you are in a place on Beale Street you expect the Blues. Same with Mexican etc. etc. etc. Now a trendy place could and should play some avant garde stuff to make you say to your dining partner "what the heck is that?" Nothing wrong with muzsak. Its scientifically balanced for peoples enjoyment - lol.

Tess Kincaid said...

Silence is golden.

Berowne said...

In my highly unscientific survey, I note that the following are in agreement with the idea of silence with the meal: Pearl, Jedediah, Kay L. D., Deborah. Stay tuned as other precincts report in. :-)

Brigid said...

The only sounds should be witty banter, steaks sizzling and champagne fizzing..in my humble opinion.

Southwest Arkie said...

Music, yes, if low background and not stage center. No rock, that makes my head pound and my stomach churn. Noise I don't want to hear at a restaurant? Cell phone conversations. Why does everyone think they need to raise their voices when they talk on their phone?

Pat said...

I think you're right. It isn't just a question of taste but also volume preferences, which varies greatly from generation to generation and Muzac can drive people bananas.

kathew said...

oh silence please- the clink of china and silver interspersed with gemtle conversation and laughter is music to me

Elizabeth said...

Playing loud music is counter productive as it has, like red decor, been proven to hinder the digestion - fine for a dreadful fast food outlet where the emphasis is on moving customers through as quickly as possible, but not for a fine restaurant, where the ambience should be one conducive to lingering over an exquisitely prepared meal in enjoyable company.Tables set decently apart and the quiet swish of unobrotusive, polite service are all that are necessary.

But your posting perturbs me a little, sweet Berowne. Surely you did not finely get your evening out with your true love, Renee Fleming, only to find that the moment you gazed deeply into her eyes, the music killed the passion? That would surely be a tragedy too cruel to bear.
;-) x

Berowne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Berowne said...

Elizabeth: "Surely you did not finely get your evening out with your true love, Renee Fleming."
No, I wasn't out with Renee. She keeps calling, but I've just been so busy... :-)
"That would surely be a tragedy too cruel to bear."
And we should all agree not to be cruel to bears.

Elizabeth said...

Ah, so many fine pedigree women queing up for your attentions, Berowne; so little time in life.There's definately no point in me calling you, then!
'Exit pursued by a bear.' ;-) x

Berowne said...

Elizabeth: "There's definately no point in me calling you, then!"
No point at all. Look instead at what we have. A perfect relationship: warm, faithful, intimate -- and cyber. :-)
"Exit pursued by a bear."
"The Winter's Tale," Act III.

Pauline said...

Oh for a restaurant where all you here is quiet conversation and the clink of sliverware on china! maybe you should circulate this idea of yours!

ZephyrInk said...

Oh the value of silence, for in it is the only place we might hear of whisper of how chaotic life is other wise. Or you know, the people sitting across from us in a crowded place like a restaurant.

Berowne said...

Interesting. Both Pauline and ZephyrInk vote for silence.

Tumblewords: said...

Sans music. There's usually enough noise in a restaurant to keep it from reaching total silence, anyway. Good post!

Kavita said...

Hmm.. you have posed a super interesting question, Berowne...
I think I will play Pink Floyd in my restaurant... The people that keep returning to my restaurant are the ones that share my taste in music as well.. so, yaaaayyy :))
A very thought provoking take on the Magpie though!! Liked this a lot!!

Doctor FTSE said...

Silence every time! I don't go into shops or restaurants that put music I haven't ordered on the menu. At my time of life, with hearing acuity diminishing, coping with cutlery and china noise is bad enough. "Silence" said Mozart somewhere, "is the most important thing in music!" So what about John Gage's "4.33" played on a repeating loop all through lunch!

Lucy Westenra said...

My definition of a cretin? Someone who wants music with their meals. Meals out are for people to talk with each other.

Southwest Arkle . . people talk louder on their mobiles (cellphones) to tell the folk at the nearby tables how important their call is. Or maybe to make themselves heard over Pink Floyd.

Berowne said...

Tumblewords: "Sans music." Tess K.: "Silence is golden." Dr. FTSE: "Silence every time!" And Lucy W. takes it to a higher level: "My definition of a cretin? Someone who wants music with their meals."
H'mm. I'd better bring this survey to a close before it gets violent. :-)

thingy said...

Right on!

Bee's Blog said...

Just make sure it's not piped! Either through a tannoy or a bag!

Stafford Ray said...

Hi, today is Feb 5, and I caught up with Ben Johnson and read down to here, where I read to last trip. My system is wireless broadband, comparatively slow, so I can't get to read all I would like to, but let me say I enjoy so much, your informative and witty dissertations.

As a musician who did many stints in restaurants, the music helps create an atmosphere where people do not feel exposed, so they eat/drink more and stay longer. It is not supposed to entertain, so singing is not appropriate except if there is a large party going on, then the band belongs to the party.
Volume level is low enough so people do not have to strain to hear each other but people at adjacent tables cannot hear them over the music.
It is particularly important to have music when there are few people, less so when it is full.
If there is no live band (more often than not) it is hard to find appropriate music because there is not much instrumental music recorded now, so it is back to Jobim and Getz I guess!

 
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