THERE has been considerable comment on the scheme to deter unruly youths from Halifax bus station by playing classical music at them.
The same wheeze is underway at Huddersfield bus station, after it had apparently been successful at that town’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre. I visit that occasionally and always quite liked the fact that baroque oboe music is piped in the entrance lobby. I just thought they were being civilised and cultured. But it turns out that the policy was a rather cynical means of social control.
It is rather sad. Classical music is supposed to be uplifting and life-affirming and to exert a civilising influence, but here it is being used as a way of chasing off yobs.
The psychology of it is simple enough. Music is adopted as a badge of group identity and anything that is strange and alien is likely to have deterrent value. This music isn’t for us, so this place isn’t for us. I get that feeling every time I go into a pub that is playing hip-hop/rap at deafening volumes.
It is just a shame that the music of Vivaldi, Mozart etc should be deemed alien and off-putting in this way.
But if music IS to be used for social control, I wonder if a reverse effect would work. If the kids are sent packing by soothing orchestral music, could they be deliberately drawn to a particular place by musical means?
Occasionally, local authorities are rather dubiously persuaded that the best way to counter the menace of graffiti is to have an official wall space where vandals are allowed to daub away undisturbed and thus satisfy their “creative” urges.
Follow the argument through and you could have bus shelters that it was permissible to smash up and windows that it was officially OK to break, located in special vandal zones where you can drop litter and allow your pit bull to defecate at will.
You could attract a “clientele” to these facilities by playing rap or death-metal over loud speakers. And when you wanted them to disperse, so that you can fix the bus shelters and mend the windows for the next day’s activities, you would switch to Beethoven and Verdi.