Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mozart and crime

It seems that our obsession with Mozart and the supernatural powers of his music are never-ending. Classic FM reports that in New Zealand '"The Mozart Effect" is hoped to deter criminal activity and antisocial behaviour in the area.' Mozart's music - it's not reported exactly what - will be played by speakers in specific areas of town to try and deter anti-social behaviour and criminal activity where increased police patrols have worked.

This may work - I certainly have no idea whether it will or not - but doesn't it seem strange that rather than try and solve the problem directly they are resorting to the potential 'humanizing' effect of music that is nearly 250 years old? This idea - that great art, particularly music, can civilize and educate us - still holds a surprising amount of weight, especially given the ideologies musical propaganda was enlisted to support in the twentieth century. The theory that listening to what some of us consider to be high art can improve the actions of our fellow humans is attractive, but I am not sure that the reality of art is quite so simple.

Even if this scheme does work (although I do wonder if that might just be because the culprits aren't big fans of Don Giovanni) shouldn't we stop and think for a moment about how music affects our behaviour, and consider the lessons of history, rather than simply leading another cheer for Wolfgang?