Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mood Music

At least once a week I get a complaint from a massage client about the music in the clinic- Sirius XM's Spa station. Sadly, the only control I have over it is the ability to adjust the volume. Usually the complaint is that it is not relaxing. There are frequent station breaks with strange sounding sound effects and silly voice-overs. For example, there is a train crossing sound effect (Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding- train speeding by) and the dreamy female voice says, "Your relaxation...destination...Spa...Sirius XM." It's both corny and distracting.

In mid December, they started playing an announcement about a seasonal changeover to Radio Hanukkah every 30 minutes- that was a guy reading a whole paragraph about the changing format, station numbers, and dates, like it was vital information to people sitting in a beauty salon or on a massage table. It's like they're completely out of touch with their consumers.

According to the website, Spa's format is "Relaxing and soothing sounds of new age and ambient music from around the world." New age music, from what I can gather from their use of the term, involves computer age, ethereal, synthesizer driven, bouncy, peppy, video game tunes which frequently launch the listeners into space. Immediately following that might be an African drum circle with chanting natives and banging gourds, which could be called "music from around the world," but "ambient" it is not. The other most common sub-genre that I hear is Asian inspired flutes and string instruments along with some gonging bells and nature sounds. One of the "nature sounds" I've been hearing every day lately sounds more like a little boy peeing into a brass bowl than a babbling fountain, which is probably what they were trying to convey in the studio.

Then there's the Middle Eastern songs- complete with shimmy-ing hip scarves and ankles bells on belly dancers. They even have the added bonus of wailing women vocalizing their plight as harem slaves or something. Again, very distracting and not appropriate when I'm doing something like a sports massage on a tri-athlete named Bob.

One regular client of mine has suggested Pink Floyd as her massage music of choice, which I can totally support. Each person's taste is unique and I would love to have more options for my clients. There have been rare instances when I have loaded up my mp3 player with a very personalized playlist for a client. For my Pink Floyd fan, I created this Listmania list on Amazon.com as an example of fine tuning massage music to a specific genre. If it enhances the healing that takes place, any genre of music can be appropriate, in my opinion.

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