Live music and loudness

9th July 2014 | Daily Life, Musings | 2 comments

I went to a wine and cheese tasting session the other night in an atmospheric old building in Edinburgh. All the cheeses were made in Scotland. The evening was fun, but over rather quickly. One wine followed hard on the heels of another and I rather wished there had been some way of creating pauses between the tastings – with some gentle folk music, perhaps, for us to listen to as the sun went down. A Scottish singer, a harp or clarsach, a Highland violinist or two – that would have been a delightful way of complementing the wines and cheeses, as well as separating them enough that we could digest them and let the taste linger before moving on to the next.

So when the organisers asked, at the end of the evening, if anyone had any suggestions for improvements that could be made to the next such session, I popped up with my idea of introducing some live music between the tastings. The organiser’s reaction was interesting. ‘Oh no – that wouldn’t go down at all well with our neighbours!’ he said with a smile. ‘They wouldn’t thank us for keeping them awake late into the night with loud music.’

Who said anything about loud music? I didn’t. I had been thinking of something intimate, something full of character and history, to fit with the old building. I suppose I’d been imagining the traditional music equivalent of freshly made goat’s cheese, soft and piquant. I was surprised by the assumption that live music meant loud music. The two are not necessarily linked, of course, unless amplification is used. In the kind of music I like to play (and hear), the music is only loud when the composer calls for it to be loud, which is only now and then, and only in contrast to quiet music. I hope people aren’t starting to think that live music is synonymous with loud music – it’s not!


  1. Paul Austen

    Hi Susan,

    Your story reminded me of several years ago when my Sue’s parents came up to Carlisle to visit us. As we then had our three girls they said they’d stay in a nearby hotel. When they checked in the owner told them there would be live music in the evenings and would they be happy about that. Sue’s mother said she imagined there’d be a string quartet playing during dinner!! But after a couple of nights of a live pop group shaking the building’s foundations they decided to move to another hotel!!!!


  2. James B

    What a philistine. Then again, he may have been thinking the same thing about your lacking of the knowledge of the subtleties of wines and cheeses!


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