The matter of music being played at a volume that triggers public clamour is again in the news, and clearly needs attention from the powers that be, but whoever sets about to tackle this issue needs to be aware that it is not simply a case of “turn down the volume” as has been suggested and this is not just of a case of some “inconsiderate people” as has also been mentioned.
In the first place, there is a cultural tradition in play here: Caribbean people, generally, like their music playing with vigour and with the bass and drums prominent – we are a dancing people, we start from young and we maintain it even in the senior years; we like the music, as I’ve heard it put, “to hit we in we chest”; it is so, trust me, all across the region. The other piece that must be noted has nothing to do with our music but with the way we design our structures in the region. In our tropical countries, with heat and humidity, we have buildings with copious windows, and wide ones, too, and such features as the louvered Demerara shutters, ostensibly allowing breeze to pass but also allowing sound to enter in the process. More importantly, one does not see here the virtually closed-tight constructions of temperate countries that are employed to keep out the cold winds. Here, we want the breezes to pass through, and the sounds follow. The matter of noise entering the house is not something I recall noticing as youngster growing up in West Dem. Yes, you would hear it occasionally from the Indian wedding, or the wake in the village, but those were isolated examples breaking the quiet in Vreed-en-Hoop or Hague. It may have been quite loud, in fact; I was much younger then and didn’t notice. To make the point another way: we have always been an outside/inside people, hearing the country bus passing outside, or the bird chirping in the window, or the donkey braying in the distance, or the shrimp seller conch shell calling you to buy…..