Sunday, August 4, 2013

Amplified Music

The bane of the Caribbean is amplified music.  It is not enough that most rum shops (neighborhood bars) have it blasting from every opening, but they have figured out how to go mobile.

The blue box with speakers lashed to it is a large generator.

The truck with the generator is pulling a trailer with the soundboard, more speakers and the “DJ” (the guy with the funny hat).

   Carnival in Bequia

Dancers are expected to follow the truck and trailer with the speakers pointed at them.  The volume is cranked to a level causing what the National Institute on Deafness calls “noise-induced deafness.”

Like the other bad things in the Caribbean such as saggy pants with underwear showing, amplified music is a U.S. export.  The Grateful Dead’s audio engineer, Bear Stanley, is credited with building the 75 ton “Wall of Sound” that required 4 semi-trailers and 21 crew members to haul and setup.  Prior to designing The Wall, Stanley had been in prison for possession of 350,000 doses of LSD and 1,500 doses of STP that he claimed were for his personal use.

Even out in the forest, they figure out how to get speakers going at full volume.

As visitors to the islands all we can do is grin and bear it.  Normally we can just move away from the speakers, but why do they always have to put them right next to where the beer and food is sold?

As cruisers, we feel especially assaulted by the amplified music.  Many nice anchorages are polluted with “music” from shore.  Sound, like light, normally travels in straight lines and should quickly disperse above the anchorage.  However, the sound that “should” rise up curves back down to the water.  Therefore, it sounds louder than it should and is somewhat distorted.

A sound truck for Grenada’s Carnival makes Bequia’s seem pathetic.

Grenada’s Carnival is already in full swing, with August 12th being the day requiring ear plugs.  Last year our boat was vibrating at 4:00 AM.

There is some good news, however.  A recent study published in Science Daily states, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, short-term hearing loss after sustained exposure to loud noise does not reflect damage to our hearing; instead it is the body’s way to cope.”  As sound levels rise, the cells in the cochlea release the hormone ATP, which binds to a receptor causing the temporary reduction of hearing sensitivity.  The study goes on to say chronic exposure, depending on your genes, can cause problems years later.

Question: What did the islander say after he got out of rehab?

Answer: “This music sucks!”

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