The BBC is reporting on an interesting piece of research about the way people are using personal music players to claim back something personal from a world where we are surrounded by advertising messages:
Through interviews with Walkman owners and now iPod buyers, he found that listening to music acts as a shield, aura or cocoon … Using headphones helps to keep the world at bay and reclaim some space. [Source]
Yesterday I listened to my own choice of music in the gym rather than watching one of the televisions hanging from the ceilings. It was a very different experience and – to be honest – I almost caught myself singing along. I had purposely chosen a lot of upbeat pop/dance to keep me going and it worked. While my usual fare of Sky News and Chart Show TV are interesting, this time I knew my whole musical selection would be good and I would find the whole hour interesting and commercial free.
But what about the aspect of the walkman or iPod as a space definer? I think this is probably very obvious. I often ride the London Underground listening to music to cut me off from the rest of the people there. In a morning, it really does give you a sense of your own space when you are sardine-squashed into a carriage. In an evening it keeps you occupied – less likely to be engaged in a conversation with somebody who you might find threatening.
A few weeks ago, cityofsound pointed me to Traffic Island Disks – an interesting radio programme loooking at the music people are listening to as they wander around an area of London. It really is very interesting listening to how people define their own spaces through the music they are listening to (it’s also a pretty good idea for a radio show).