Why Criminals Are Afraid of Classical Music

Many young people, especially the anti-social, dislike classical music so much that it can be played to discourage them from intimidating, harassing and robbing.

This experiment has been successful over many years in countless locations.

The earliest occurrence was in the mid-1980s, when Canadian outlets of 7-Eleven played easy listening and classical music to disperse teenagers loitering outside. After that, companies from McDonald's to Co-op, transport authorities, housing estates and shopping malls around the world have employed this method.

In the UK, the first to do so was the Tyne-and-Wear Metro system in 1997, following Montreal’s underground system in Canada.

Other British transport providers, including the much bigger London Underground, imitated the scheme. The most effective deterrents were anything sung by Pavarotti or written by Mozart.

Across the pond, whether at New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, La Guardia, Newark International and John F. Kennedy International airports, and Pennsylvania Station; at Portland, Oregon, light-rail stations; in Seattle's parking lots; or in Anchorage, Alaska, Town Square, classical music has helped even against crimes like drug dealing.

Same in Australia and New Zealand. In Queensland, it reduced vandalism and graffiti.

The evidence seems plentiful. Why, then?

The simplest explanations, in the time-honored scientific tradition of Occam's razor, should be considered first.

Teenagers, especially those with uneducated ears, don't like classical music, and they think it's not "cool" to be seen by their peers listening to it.

Still other explanations are in the nature of classical music itself. Much of it conveys a sense of order, symmetry and beauty, that conflicts with the disorder and ugliness in the minds of hooligans.

Musicologist Giovanni Bietti explains that Beethoven -- who was convinced that music could make a great social contribution -- Mozart and Haydn had a rational image of music, which is why in their works the initial contrasts are always resolved through the rules of composition, giving order to thoughts. This discourages those who don’t accept the rules.

It’s likethe link between criminal behavior and rap, through the rap lyrics and the "music" -- or rather cacophony -- itself.

A society that is enthralled by the vulgarity of Amy Winehouse acoustically and Tracey Emin visually is on an aesthetic and moral downward path, as we observe from many other different indicators.

There are forms of expression that exalt and bring out the worst of us and others that exalt and bring out the best of us. In many ways, while rap encourages the anti-social in each of us, classical music keeps it at bay.

Enza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based Philosophy graduate, author and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L’Espresso, La Repubblica. She is in the Executive Council of the UK’s party Liberty GB.

She blogs at www.enzaferreri.blogspot.co.uk.

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