Give the iPod a rest on November 21, no music day

nomusicdayTravelers come in all shapes and sizes, but if there’s one common element these days it seems to be that everyone is packing an iPod. Long bus rides, plane flights, layovers, lonely, deserted hostels and other familiar travel trials all seem to be a little bit easier to bear when you have a pair of headphones and gigabytes worth of music at your fingertips.

But iPods can get in the way too, cutting you off from the people around you. Sometimes that’s exactly the point, avoiding that awkward conversation with the person sitting next to you, but other times you might be missing out on local music playing on the loudspeakers, conversations with fellow travelers and more.

And you’d most definitely be missing out on one of travel’s rarer experiences — silence.

It should come as no surprise that, in an age where music is ubiquitous, some people decry its omnipresence by touting the value of silence. In fact, it would only be surprising if there weren’t some sort of “silence” movement. Books like Manifesto for Silence: Confronting the Politics and Culture of Noise or A Book of Silence both suggest possible drawbacks to ubiquitous music.

I’m not going to suggest you throw your iPod away, nor do I think there are any significant problems with music being everywhere, but, that said, I find No Music Day an interesting idea.

No Music Day happens annually on November 21, the day before celebrations for the patron saint of music, Saint Cecilia. This year No Music Day will be hosted in Linz, Austria, but naturally, you can participate from wherever you happen to be.

No Music Day is the brainchild of Bill Drummond, former frontman of dance band The KLF and is notable for its total lack of agenda. No Music Day isn’t trying to get you to ditch the iPod or give up music, rather, as the website says, “No Music Day exists for various reasons, you may have one.”

I can think of quite a few, but my favorite is to really appreciate what music adds to our lives — going one day without it reminds us not to take it for granted.

As Drummond tells the Financial Times: “I had this fantasy of being a medieval hermit and travelling from my hermitage in the middle of nowhere to a city. I get to the city, I find the cathedral, I walk through its doors into a shaft of sunlight, and there‚Äôs a choir practicing… I know that the impact of that music would be far greater than anything I could experience in my life from now on in.”

Obviously, unless you happen to be in Linz (and even then, who knows), you probably aren’t going to really go a day without music, but you could at least turn off the iPod for a few hours and see what happens.

If you’d like to participate you can post your reasons and other thoughts on the No Music Day website and see the reasons others are (or aren’t) participating.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 17, 2009
Category: General

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