16 August 2005

The right to silence

Whether in a department store, a restaurant or a market - there is hardly any place where loud sounds of music are being played.

In large shopping malls the music has long been centrally controlled, leaving individual shopping centres with little choice in whether or not to play music and how loudly to play it. The background music is there to stimulate consumption.

Harald Fiedler is tired of this constant assault on his ears. In 2004 he founded an organization Pipedown the Right to Silence to fight this noise that Fiedler calls acoustic pollution.

”The increasingly noisy music in restaurants and supermarkets is extremely annoying. It started in the 1970s and only gets worse every year,” said Fiedler. He believes there is more than enough noise everywhere else around us.

Fiedler is receiving prominent backing from the former German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, the British conductor Sir Neville Marriner, the German conductor Kurt Masur, the German pianist and conductor Justus Franz and the Latvian born violinist Gidon Kremer. All of them have joined Harald Fiedler’s organization.

Studies indicate that more than one third of all shoppers find the music bothersome. Over time, sustained noise may damage your hearing, causing hearing loss and tinnitus. Audiologists and ear, nose and throat specialists warn against the harmful effects of constant listening to music and are pleading to the public to give your ears a break on a regular basis.

Sources: www.pipedown.de and www.stern.de

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