terça-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2010
MUSICAL ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
Em 2004, Hell's Bells, do AC/DC, foi tocado repetidamente pela divisão de Operações Psicológicas das Forças Armadas Americanas a fim de preparar os soldados para a invasão de Fallujah, no Iraque.
Yale Fox (DJ, Presidente do Fragglerock DJ's e autor do blog Darwin vs The Machine)
Robert Brym (professor titular da Universidade de Toronto que se tornou mundialmente famoso ao publicar com Cynthia Hamlin)
Researchers have long known that music influences behavior. Food courts chase away loitering mall rats by piping in classical music. Teen boutiques boost sales by playing uptempo tunes. American troops blared hard rock for 15 days in 1989 to encourage Panamanian president Manuel Norriega’s surrender, and the 361st PsyOps company repeatedly blasted AC/DC’s ear-shattering “Hell’s Bells” and “Shoot to Thrill” to prepare the battlefield for the 2004 assault on Fallujah. According to the BBC, playing Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You” at high volume in shipping containers facilitates the interrogation of Iraqi detainees.
Similarly, for at least a decade, nightclub owners have been urging disc jockeys to mix uptempo songs quickly. They sense what researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have demonstrated: a rapid beat and fast mixing shorten perception of the passage of time because high-speed music requires listeners to process more information per second than slow music does. One consequence of sped-up time perception is that club patrons order more alcoholic drinks.
Another consequence of this strategy is the spread of Musical Attention Deficit Disorder (MADD) among people between their mid-teens and late 20s. Adopting the methodology of DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, we may associate MADD with one or more trait in each of the following categories:
1. Inability to listen to an entire song (average duration: about 3 minutes) without becoming distracted.
2. Frequent use of MP3 and CD players to skim songs, listening to each for less than a minute.
3. Ability to perform multiple tasks (for example, writing an essay and watching TV) simultaneously.
4. Ability to perform tasks, especially those involving computers and the mass media, at a significantly faster pace than members of older generations can.
Young people are especially prone to MADD for neurological reasons. Aging is associated with a declining number of neurotransmitters and degradation in motor neuron functions. Consequently, as we age, our reaction time decreases, our short-term memory weakens and our attention span increases. A 15-year-old’s routine tasks – checking e-mail, channel surfing, instant messaging – often seem bewildering to her parents, who are neurologically incapable of processing what appear to them to be lightning-fast events.
In recent years, sociological and cultural factors have widened the generational gap in processing time and ability to multitask. For example, 30 years of research by the Children’s Television Workshop suggests that shows like Sesame Street condition children to regard brevity as normality. Attention span shortens apace.
At the same time, adults increasingly program their offspring with a slew of activities, apparently believing that free time encourages sloth while being constantly preoccupied with music, dance, computer and other lessons produces high achievers. Increasingly, children become anxious when they are not busy doing something – or many things at once.
A fast-paced media- and technology-rich environment affords plenty of opportunities to multitask. Most North American homes have at least one computer connected to the Internet. Children and adolescents routinely type essays while listening to music, interspersing bursts of composition with multiple IM conversations and Facebook visits.
By the time adolescents become young adults, nightclubs are ready to reinforce patterns of behavior conditioned since toddlerhood. As patrons dance, sing, make first impressions and seek partners, they take attention-shortening drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and ecstasy. Arguably, nightclubs are the most high-intensity, fast-paced social settings on the planet.
Popular music is formatted in a way that encourages MADD. Club tracks typically have eight bars of intro music followed by a hook or chorus – the catchiest part of the song and the part that is easiest to sing along with. Then comes the first verse, followed by the chorus. The next song is mixed in immediately after the chorus. As Aaron Waisglass, CEO of Tremendous Records and a top international DJ, notes, DJs playing for a young crowd need to mix quickly to maintain a tight dance floor and excite people. In contrast, quick mixing represents information overload for an older crowd, which quickly becomes irritated unless the DJ plays songs in their entirety.
The DJ has always been an important influence on popular music. Today, most of the top DJs use a hardware/software combination known as Serato, a digital vinyl emulation that allows DJs to play MP3 files as if they were vinyl. They use Serato to mix songs more quickly than was previously possible. DJs don’t have to pick up a record, put it in a sleeve, find the next record, cue it, beatmatch and mix out. Serato allows DJs to choose the next song and find a cuepoint almost instantaneously. In the disco era, sixteen bar intros were common, so it was easier for DJs to beatmatch. More of each song was played, partly because DJs needed time to mix the next song, partly because young people were less affected by the evolution of rapid information processing.
Evidence suggests that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is on the rise. The World Health Organization estimates that 3-5 percent of adults now suffer from the ailment worldwide. Significantly, rich countries have a higher incidence of ADD than other countries. And it is precisely in such countries that MADD is also on the upswing. The reason is clear. Although built on neurological foundations that have always separated younger from older generations, MADD has been nurtured by changes in childrearing, mass media and music industry practices that pervade countries that are saturated by the mass media and digital technology.