How audio affects our mood

I was sitting in one of those brown wooden chairs in a Barnes and Nobles bookstore yesterday skimming through various audio magazines when suddenly there was a loud crash of dishes breaking as they hit the floor in the backroom of the bookstore cafe. The noise was so startling, I expected to hear crying next. Because I was reading about audio, I started thinking about the sounds we hear on a daily basis. With the exception of the hearing-impaired, we’re bombarded with thousands of sounds every day. And many of them are unwanted.

I started wondering what it would be like to live in a rural community or, even better, in the woods all alone with only the sounds of nature. Would I be less stressed? Probably. Because I love big city amenities, I have to take the bad with the good. On this day, the bad was the loud noises coming from what is normally a fairly relaxing bookstore.

Sounds influence my mood and I imagine your mood, too. I was in a peaceful mood until I heard the crash of breaking dishes. Then suddenly my mood changed to one of anxiety and stress. So, if sounds have that kind of control over me, they’re pretty darn powerful, aren’t they? Audio can control us — even manipulate us. How can we use audio to better our lives? What kind of sounds would have changed my mood back to a peaceful one after the crash of the dishes? Perhaps something like this:

A recording of Steve Erkel asking, “Did I do that?”
Colonel Klink yells, “You vill clean up dis mess!”
Ten seconds of violins pizzicato plucking a happy cleanup tune.
Then an announcer says, “Bounty Paper Towels clean up even the toughest spills.”

Was that a commercial or just a brief bit of entertainment to put customers back into a good mood? I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t care. But I believe it just might have worked. It would have put a smile on my face and got me back into the right frame of mind. Oh, and by the way, I would have had a positive image of Bounty Paper Towels. Audio. It’s effective when it’s used the right way at just the right time. I made a mental note to always strive to offer the best sounds I can to everyone around me, including my clients. It will make for a nicer world.

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