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Save ‘Music’, ban “Noise”

My college professor once told me that in the beginning the entire world was a ‘chaos’ of solid matter, water, gases and chemicals. Then God played music and brought order out of this ‘chaos’ making it a world full of ‘measures & systems ‘.  Music made the world a better place to live in.   
Music is certainly a wonderful thing.  It is one of God’s best creations. Could there be anyone in this world that does not like music? No and there never will be. Still however, in recent times, there are quite a few people who have started looking at music through dark glasses.

One such is the Government of Goa.  What made the Government of Goa adopt the “Madhya Pradesh Noise Pollution Act’ for Goa and ban music in Goa after 10 pm?
Is music “noise”?
Did our law makers then, even think for a minute to differentiate between “NOISE & MUSIC”? Did our law makers then, even think for a minute if such a “law” is suitable for Goa and Goans? 
I for one do not think so.
Let’s   go a little deeper into this subject.  Everyone knows that “Noise” is irritating to the ear whereas “music “is pleasant.  “Prolonged noise” is harmful to our health whereas “music”, however long, is healthy. Everyone knows this and everyone understands this.
However, a few N.G.O s that have some reservations on the usefulness of music come up with these 2 arguments:
1. How ‘loud’ should music be?
2. Should music be allowed at night, if it disturbs someone’s sleep?
Both are very valid arguments.

However argument No.1.  Is exclusively for the “Medical Professionals” to decide and all should respect their decision. The Medical Professionals have already given their decision. Let’s talk about it for some time.

The Worksafe Australia Commission  in its “Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984” (Section 57) puts a limit on Sounds of up to  85 decibels for a continuous period of 8 hours from a distance of 1 meter. Anything above that limit could be harmful.
If we take this “Act’ from a developed nation “Australia’ and apply it to our Goan context, then, music in  Goa is quite safe for the performers, the staff and the audience, because musical programmes in Goa (indoor or outdoor) do not extend beyond  3 to 4 hours.

So also, music played in Goa (indoor or outdoor) is never continuous for even 4 hours, leave alone for 8 hours.
Take for Example: 
1. A Konkani ‘Tiatr’ is only 50% music and the rest is prose and emoting , where the sound is in low decibels . So also, its maximum duration is 3.5 hours. The audience too is kept at least 4 to 5 meters away from the musical Instruments, actors or the speakers.           
2.  A Konkani ‘Nattak” (indoor or outdoor) is mostly all prose and acting. Hence, again in low decibels. The Nattak also does not last beyond 3 hours. The audience hereto is kept at least 4 to 5 meters away from the actors or the “”speakers”.
3. A ‘Music-Band’ with electrical instruments , playing for a wedding  or a musical evening, they say , may amplify sound on the  higher side, but these bands also rarely  play continuously for long periods. So also their “speakers” are placed far away from the dance floor and at a very high level.
If this is the ground reality in Goa, then why are these few N.G.Os being so hyper about the music-scene in Goa?
Why come so hard on the display of our Goan culture?  Why create obstructions for our talented musicians and stage actors?  Let’s not be irrational in our attitude to music, musicians and musical events.

No musician wants his or her music to be harmful to his or her fans. No musician will willfully cross the permissible limit of sound, by amplifying the sound to harmful levels.
If we still must doubt our own musicians, and event managers then let the government authorities introduce a method of measuring the sound levels and carry out random checks.
Even before that, let the Government carry out awareness programmes among  musicians, event organizers and sound operators of the safety-limits up to which sound should be amplified and yet made audible to all.  Let the Government then punish the defaulters if necessary.
But wait, extending this argument a little further, one must understand that “loud music” is also music and there are many young people who enjoy “loud music” irrespective of its health hazards. Take the case of “rock music”.  Can you imagine “rock music” being played ‘softly’? Do we know that “heavy metal music” is also music recognized at the level of International Grammy Awards? Has anyone heard of a discotheque which plays only “soft music”? Can you imagine “aerobics” being carried out on soft music? Is this not their “Right”?
At the most we could educate our youth on the health hazards of loud music, but we cannot take away their “Right” because “Loud Music” is also music. It’s not Noise.

If authorities become too rigid about the 85 decibels safety-limit on music bands, then probably no music band could accommodate a Bass-Drum in its set-up, because the Bass-Drum alone produces a minimum sound level of 106 decibels.
What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. What’s “noise” for one, could be “music” for the other.
Hence, a blanket ban on all outdoor and loud Music is definitely not the answer.
Now, let’s talk on Argument No.2.
This is also a matter for discussion between the organizers of musical events and the N.G.Os taking up the cause of those who complain.  What is mutually agreed upon between them must necessarily be acceptable to the Government.
It’s true no one, young or old, wants his or her “night-sleep’ to be disturbed by loud music or loud-speaker systems. A “disturbance-free sleep” is their “right” and all must respect it.

It’s also true in Goa there are a lot of musicians and actors for whom performances go beyond 10 pm. That’s because in Goa there are a lot of people who want their enjoyment or entertainment to go beyond 10 pm. This is also their “right” and all must respect it.  Furthermore, there are the numerous tourists that come to Goa to enjoy Goan, music and Goan stage performances. They pay for it and they prefer their entertainment to be, indoor or outdoor, after 10 pm.
How does Goa, then, handle such a situation?  Do we sacrifice one for the other?
I for one think that we should not sacrifice either.  We must strike a balance accommodating a little for both.

There should not be any problem with indoor music at all, even if it’s a little loud but for outdoor music like Tiatrs, Nattaks, weddings and musical shows a closing time of 11.30 pm  (up to 7.30 am) could be just the right solution. That could still give everyone a full 8 hour sleep. 
There may still be some exceptions here, where people may insist that their night starts at 10 pm.  These cases are far and few.  We can always find ways and means to deal with the exceptions. Giving them free ear plugs to be used at bed-time, may be one solution.

What is most needed is an “Act” that prevents noise but protects music.   An “Act” that is better suitable to our situation in Goa. 
Goa is a land of music and musicians and Goan talent attracts tourists from all over the world. The situation in Goa is not the same as that of Madhya Pradesh. We must have our own “Noise Pollution Act’ that is designed to meet the Goan situation.
Let us ban “Noise” not Music, because  “ Music”  is not Noise.

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