BRAHMS TO THE RESCUE

Background music is essential in the movies. “Rocky” would have been a so-so pug without his rousing theme and a musicless “Jaws” would have lost much of its bite.

The strong influence of music is not a new idea. Playwrite William Congreves wrote in 1697, “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks or bend the knotted oak.”

There are examples in real life. Serenades still arouse the emotions of young maidens, dirges underline our grief and military bands still inspire troops with the necessary enthusiasm to run in the right direction when the battle begins.

Background music is often piped into dentist and IRS waiting rooms and wherever else a calming influence is needed, a sort of audio Novocaine. But a more personal effort for attitude adjustment is also available..

Using your Smart Phone player to create an appropriate audio atmosphere could increase your chance for success by inspiring others to change their attitudes or tempos. Say you’ve been summoned into your boss’s office. He appears angry and you sense an impending crisis. “You sent for me, Mr. Hardnose?” you ask and reach into your pocket to turn on your player, selecting “Brahms Lullaby”.”

“It’s this Badpenny contract,” Mr. Hardnose growls. “You were a week late in submitting it and I have never seen such a….such a….” Mr. Hardnose begins to struggle against the waves of soothing notes drifting out of your pocket and filling the room. His growls soften to murmurs with the same sleepy tempo of the lullaby. “Please try to improve this thing, my boy,” he whispers, slumping back into his chair. “It does have a few good paragraphs.”

Brahms’ Lullably is reliable, but it only provides about two minutes of sedation and shouldn’t be used to calm a major tirade. Pachelbel’s Canon gives you about six minutes and, for longer tranqulization, try De Bussy’s 10-minute “Afternoon of a Faun”. I heard it once stopped a charging bull.

There are situations calling for a faster beat. You might be in a long supermarket checkout line with a cashier and bagger who appear to be starring in a slow motion movie. A rousing Sousa march will speed things up and get you out in 6/8 time.

I’ll soon be paying by the hour for a plumber’s efforts. If, as usual, he leaves half his tools in the truck, when he leaves for them I’ll hit him with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. He’ll march briskly to the truck and possibly salute me when he returns.

Music is definitely a mood and pace changer, but it must be used carefully. A friend of mine was pulled over for speeding on Route 80 recently. He had an elaborate, well rehearsed plea about being on a mission of mercy. As an added touch he’d turned on his car’s player for a heart-rending performance of Clair de Lune. The teary-eyed trooper began to stuff his ticket book back into his pocket when Joe accidentally turned on the radio and heard a news report about an unruly crowd shouting to defund the police.

In addition to a speeding ticket, Joe was cited for reckless parking and dirty tail lights.

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