Have you ever found your senses inundated by loud music coming from a passing car? If you have, and you happened to catch the driver’s attention for seeming out of harmony with their tune, it’s possible that music got even louder. Maybe, while people share the same relative space, they never really live in the same world without being fine with the same kind of loud music.
Traditionally, good places to live are defined in part by how much quieter they are than elsewhere. Two relatively common sources of loud music are celebrations and, more broadly, attempts to define one’s nearest surroundings with would-be self-reflective material. At the latter’s best, it’s part-attempt to keep at bay what pervades in not fitting any ideal mold of the world-at-large, as so much of Black American culture has been. Often, though, playing loud music is simply about the volume speaking to what one wants to hear.
When it comes to stereo systems, raising the volume of music to eardrum-destroying levels obviously does not bode well for the hearing of the person closest to the source. But with the ease of estimating things in pantomime, maybe being unable to hear somebody else from a different world doesn’t seem so bad.
As annoying as someone else’s loud music can be at the best of times, when someone is raising the volume strictly to drown everything else out or stake their presence in a world in which they have no footing otherwise, it’s hard to be part of that everything else. But maybe that’s why non-exclusive living can produce something as bold as the blues. When one’s background is quiet and the world still reflects one positively, there’s the easy option of coasting along without the roughness that, ironically (and unfortunately less often than not), creates the most soulful kind of music–stuff that’s a far cry from loud noise.