There’s another press report on classical music being used to drive troublesome teenagers away from local shops, this time with a twist. The Co-op store in an Aberdeen suburb has been broadcasting a classical playlist at the front of its shop as a ‘deterrent’. But staff were startled when they turned the music off recently, and local teens came in and asked for it to be turned on again.
The topic of ‘classical music as turn-off’ has been popping (if that’s the word) up in the press for several years now, and I never quite know what is being said about classical music. Sometimes the writers seem to take it for granted that classical music is horrible, and will obviously stop people wanting to hang around in places where it is playing. Sometimes it seems that they are merely using classical music as a metaphor for ‘unfashionable’ or ‘old-fashioned’, things that the trendy young would run a mile from.
But the connotations which classical music has for some people are nothing whatever to do with the music itself. The Co-op’s playlist is full of Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach – utterly melodious and warm-hearted music. Shorn of ‘labels’, who could fail to like it? Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. Rossini’s ‘Barber of Seville’. ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s ‘The Seasons’. Mozart’s G minor Symphony. This is music whose ‘message’ is nothing but positive.
It makes me sad to think that, in some people’s minds, classical music is a badge of tribe – the ‘tribe’ being that of oldies and losers. Its composers would be stunned and horrified to think that some of their loveliest melodies had become ‘anti-young’ weaponry. Those Scottish teenagers who went in to the Co-op and asked for more evidently had the sense to realise that good music is good music, full stop.