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February 8th, 2012 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Classically Trained

What's the thinking behind playing classical music at MAX stops?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
     
Tags: MAX, TriMet

Every morning as the MAX doors open at Lloyd Center, I hear the sounds of opera. I think I know the thinking behind this, but could you please illuminate us on whether the strategy is working? 

—Bill S.

We all have our crosses to bear, Bill. Every morning I hear the buzzing of 10,000 bees forming the words, “When you kill again, the voices will stop, for a time,” but you don’t see me crying the blues about it. I just breathe a silent prayer to Jodie Foster and get on with my day.

But seriously, folks: What Bill has been hearing is the result of a pilot program TriMet began in 2010. Taking a cue from the London Underground transit system, TriMet has installed loudspeakers to play classical music at a few transit stops. Lloyd Center is the latest stop to get them.

A thoughtful gesture to expose us plebes to the finer things in life? Hardly. “The goal was to reduce loitering at station platforms,” says TriMet’s Mary Fetsch.

Apparently, classical music is considered so egregiously uncool by today’s youth (frankly, yesterday’s youth aren’t that hot on it, either) that a few bars of “Vesti la giubba” will scatter them like a cat does pigeons.

If you can ignore the classism of a practice that disperses people of color by blasting the soundtrack of the European aristocracy, the program does seem to work. The song list comprises just five selections, though, so it’s possible that simply repetition plays a role.

Either way, it’s pretty clever—maybe even foolproof. After all, how could any self-respecting hooligan possibly get up to any serious mischief with the strains of, say, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony blaring in the background? I just can’t viddy it—can you, me droogs?

 
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