The practice to refrain from listening to music during these three weeks is far more difficult to observe in this century than any other time in our past. This is thanks to Thomas Edison first, followed by all those scientists who invented stereos, tape players, then walkmans, leading to MP3 players.
It used to be that only wealthy people, followed by those who attended special concerts, or catered weddings, would listen to multi-instrument performances on a regular basis. The past fifty years now has everybody enjoying musical performances every day. With the youths of America, it’s sometimes several hours a day. Many have convinced themselves that without music in the background, they can’t get anything done! They say this, these people who descend from thousands of years of civilization that did not have this perk.
I recently read some essays by the late Professor Allan Bloom, in a book he authored called “The Closing of the American Mind.” He speaks about this phenomenon, which I had always taken for granted. We, by which I mean many of us, have been duped into thinking our lives need this constant soundtrack of musical accompaniment. He suggests, quite seriously, that we have become addicted to it. And if you think about the effect that music has on the brain, the word “addicted” is not being used irresponsibly.
(This is a concern to me even when the overt sexual message of much modern music is entirely ignored.)
I love music. Those who know me know this to be true. So please do not misunderstand this piece to be anti-music. I could write a long article about the positive effects that music has had in this generation, especially to Jewish and Torah interests.
What I want to take away from this post is that people should use these few weeks, when they are being entertained less in the musical department, to consider their dependence on music as an art form. We should see to it that music be our servant, and not our master. It should be a treat, an uplifting experience, not a constant and necessary background noise.