DÉJÀ VU

History just keeps on re­peat­ing it­self…

BBC Music Magazine - - The Full Score -

Plans to play atonal mu­sic at Berlin’s S-bahn sta­tions in a bid to scare away home­less peo­ple and drug-users have been scrapped, thanks to a protest from mu­si­cians. Wor­ried that such a de­ter­rent would send out all the wrong mes­sages about their favoured art­form, a group of lead­ing con­tem­po­rary mu­sic per­form­ers staged a con­cert out­side Her­manstrasse sta­tion, which hap­pened to be at­tended by S-bahn boss Friede­mann Kessler. Twig­ging that his idea might in­deed be a touch mis­guided, Kessler soon de­cided on a re­think. Good news, though he’s by no means the first per­son to have gone down this track…

The no­tion of us­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic as a means to curb yob­bish be­hav­iour or drive peo­ple out of an area is thought to have first ap­peared in Canada in the 1980s, when a 7-Eleven store played it in its carpark. Sim­i­lar tac­tics have since been used in var­i­ous cities across the bor­der in the US, not least in San Fran­cisco, where a branch of Burger King re­cently started of­fer­ing Bach and Vi­valdi to go with the Whop­pers and fries. In the UK, mel­liflu­ous clas­si­cal tunes were in­tro­duced to

Metro sta­tions in Tyne and Wear in 1997 and, six years later in Lon­don, to Elm Park tube sta­tion, a no­to­ri­ous trou­ble spot. The idea was later ex­tended to sev­eral other sta­tions across the Lon­don Un­der­ground net­work. And does it work? Well, yes and no. While some schemes have re­ported an im­pres­sive re­duc­tion in crime, in one case in Florida, lo­cal van­dals sim­ply smashed up the loud­speak­ers.

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