Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dial it Down

I'm a music fan. I like all kinds, from classical to rock to blues to folk to country. Big band swing, jazz, ragtime, stride piano, and even hip hop and rap. It doesn't all move me the same way, but if it is well-done, I can usually appreciate some aspect of it.

Lot of music to be found out there on the internet, from YouTube to millions of sites offering choices. I even have a SoundClick gadget on my page, down there on the right at the bottom, for anybody who might want to hear some of the songs I play.

I work at home. Usually just me in my office, the dogs and cat, if they wander in, so when I sign onto a website, I don't have to worry what my co-workers think when I get a blast of ear-smiting music from my computer because somebody wants their site to be multimedia.

Still and all, what I hereby suggest to web page designers and folks who want to offer music as a b.g. for their sites when somebody logs on?

Give us a choice.

Put a gadget or applet or whatever where it's visible with a query: Play background music? At the very least, offer a volume control on the page. (There are folks who do this, and I thank them for it.) Or play it quietly enough to start that it doesn't bring the dogs running and barking and the cat scrambling off my lap in a claws-extended panic. Whatever I had in mind when I logged on, cat-claws raking my thighs and groin puts my web-page intent at the bottom of the list.

Yeah, I can go up to my sound control and pull the slider down to shut off the computer's speakers, and I do. But that sudden explosion of music, whether it's something I like or not, is disconcerting. It's as if you opened your front door to answer a knock and there's somebody standing there who starts shredding power chords on his Strat with the volume cranked up to eleven. The first response is to slam the door.

There came in my email this morning an invitation to be part of a book somebody is doing, to be interviewed as one of several genre writers. Fine. So I clicked on the editor's sig to see his website and who he is, since I didn't know him.

The site opened, and I clicked on the guy's bio. Wham! All of a sudden, I'm in the front row of a rock concert sitting too close to the guitarist's stack, and it was control-w and I'm gone.

I haven't done a survey to see how much this bothers other people. Maybe it's because I'm a fossil, but it puts me off. Whatever I had in mind when I went to the site gets disrupted. I can go for the slider, or I can shut the noisy window. Shutting the window is faster.

Lot of times, the music is fine, I have no problem in listening to it. I would just prefer that it not blare from the speaker with a volume to flag my clothes and shatter my coffee cup. Because whatever your intent -- unless that is to get me to leave your site in a hurry -- loud and unexpected music is counter-productive, and we quickly move to Cool Hand Luke's Dictum: What we have here is a failure to communicate ...

If you want it playing, dial it down, please.


Todd Erven said...

I'm not a fossil and it bothers me quite a bit. It seemed to catch on when Myspace was popular, which makes sense as it seems a very teenage thing to do.

I have my own taste in music and there's a good chance that it won't match the website owner's. Don't blare at me and give me the option of turning it off.

Brad said...

I'm not a fossil either, but I'm with you and Todd. Usually, I close the page.

I also dislike the video ads that start playing,usually louder than anything on the page I might have chosen to play.

Steve Perry said...

Yep, and they rig the video ads so you can't turn the sound down. If you want to see the video, you have to sit through the thing, but I grab the slider and kill the sound as a matter of principle. I'd watch and listen if I could turn it down to a reasonable level.

Todd Erven said...

I have a mute button on my keyboard that gets used quite frequently.

Logan said...

I remember back around '98 people used alot of Midis, and they always came off loud. I got tired of fiddling with the volume, and turned off sound in the browsers options.

Always made me wonder if uniformed volume level was something only record companies think about.

Anonymous said...

I'm very much with you, Steve. I don't want music inflicted on me, and I don't want to have to fumble for volume controls when I've been ambushed by unexpected sound and fury.

Shawn R.

jks9199 said...

Let me join the chorus... Maybe it'll be deafening like some of these sites!

I'm often on a laptop or in an office, and don't want loud music/videos blasting.

Shady_Grady said...

Yes, that gets on my nerves too.
It also bothers me that most music released on CD in the past 2 decades is mastered way too loud. Just a sign of the times.