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The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Sonic Rage cage: Study Jamz

DJ Ben Nomo Davis on the Microphone: Hello everyone, and welcome to Episode II of the Sonic Rage Cage. It's a pleasure to be back.

This week, we humble sing-songsters shall discuss the relationship between study and music. As you've walked blacked-out through the library during exam periods and seen almost every studious little Dartmouth student with white iPod headphones, haven't you ever wondered what everyone's listening to? And why they're not blacked-out? Well, we have. And that means you should have. So to all those brilliant minds that think like us, here are your answers.

First, in proper narcissistic fashion, we'll talk about ourselves. Yay. I listen to music when I study for the welcome distraction it provides. You might catch me listening to classical in the library, maybe Debussy or Dvorak (which has a confusing pronunciation, like Favre. Try pronouncing it. You were wrong). Or maybe, to lighten the mood, I'll throw in a little Sinatra.

And, my fellow columnists, what do you listen to?

DJ Blacked-Out Soil: I for real cannot, under any circumstances, listen to music when I study. It distracts me, I become fidgety, and I usually end up bursting out into song. Sometimes I dance. I think I should study with earplugs. Do people use those?

DJ Untrustworthy Jon Simpson: I don't really like to listen to music when I study, but when I do, I find myself listening to Andrew WK. He is absolutely the man, a total mule, if you will. The happiest angry-sounding man alive. His music gets me wicked pumped and is easy to zone out to. That is all I ask for.

And now to you, the public. We did exactly what we hypothesized and went up to the folk with the tiny white earbuds, rudely plucked them out of their ears, and asked, "What the *@%$ are you listening to, *@#(&&^?" We found that people, as expected in our extremely scientific study, listen to almost all types of music as they work; however, we did notice a few commonalities, "trends" as they say in the biz, that ran through our research.

DBNDOTM: (approaching a young, very attractive female, in the sketchiest manner) Hey baby. What you got bumpin' into those beautiful ears of yours?

Studygirl X: Uh... (turns her face away as though we had made a mistake. But nay, there was no mistake).

DJUJS: (tapping her on the shoulder) Excuse me? We just want to ask you a few questions about the music you listen to.

By now everyone sitting at the table with her has awkwardly shifted their books around in attempt to avoid the piercingly honest and inevitable results of our Socratic method.

DJBS: Yo. For real, we're not trying to bother you, but...

As this is said, Studygirl X nonchalantly turns up the dial on her iPod so that the volume is almost concert-level in order to drown us out.

Now, not only do we achieve our goal and hear exactly what she is listening to, but so does the entire library. Suddenly, a secret service agent rushes over, grabs the girl by the arms and escorts her swiftly out of the first floor of Berry library for questioning.

Nevertheless, we had achieved our goal, and Studygirl X's music tastes had been exposed more awkwardly than Michael Jackson's sexual preferences.

It was Michael in this case too, for Studygirl X's iPod had been jamming on "Will You Be There," the classic Free Willy theme song.

That's almost as good as Gloria Estefan and *Nsync's collaboration on the masterpiece "Music of My Heart" from the similarly-titled blockbuster film. Now why would someone choose to listen to such a song while studying? We returned home to discuss the matter over a finely-aged handle of Canadian Club.

DJBS: Now I have always been quite a fan of cheesy theme songs, so I clearly understand why this girl would choose such a remarkable track, but again, I feel like I would get distracted and want to sing along and rock out.

DJUJS: Yeah. I mean, with such powerful lyrics and a romantic, surging chord progression...

DJBNDOTM: Do you think that most people look for music that won't distract them from their studying?

Do you think people have separate music that they listen to while they study that they would not listen to when they're not studying?

DJBS: I guess. I think that in general people look for something that has a beat to push them along, yet not so full of lyrics or hard-pounding rhymes that you can't focus.

DJUJS: But Andrew WK's noise actually helps me to focus because it raises the intensity of the situation. My heart gets pounding, I start sweating, my hands clench into fighting forces terrible to behold, and then all of a sudden I'm done. Then I wipe my ass and flush the toilet.

Clearly we weren't really learning much from Free Willy, so we decided to use the wonders of Blitz to see what others in the world were listening to as they worked.

Dana Silberstein '08 says:

"When I'm in a bad mood: country or cheesy '80s pop. When I don't really plan on getting anything done: "Rent," Shakira or Michael Jackson. When I need to feel smart or actually get stuff done: classical or jazz. Pretty much always: Reel Big Fish, The Postal Service, Less Than Jake and Dave Matthews"

We say: Dana makes a few key points. First, this testimony confirmed our suspicion that people listen to music for different reasons (e.g. "When I need to feel smart").

Now, when I need to feel smart, I just get f*cked up.

Second, people listen to bad music (see "Dave Matthews" and "Less Than Jake"). Third, people listen to music that they think is "smart" when they want to study.

Why do people think that the more refined, difficult art forms of classical and jazz are banal enough to accompany you as you blindly study for something else? Don't you think that these art forms have feelings too?

Sean Walsh '08 states:

"I listen to a wide variety of stuff. Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Dispatch and Springsteen."

We say: Yup. That's a wiiiiiide variety of music.

And another. Caleb Ballou '08 says:

"I either rock out to the raw soundtrack from DVDA porn or Bette Midler's Complete Works."

We say: We love DVDA porn.

Billy Quirk '06 mentions, "I like The Cranberries or Alanis Morisette."

We say: And we like men too.

In conclusion, people use music to distract from the tedium of the boring sh*t they are studying, but the music can't distract from what they're doing.

If the point is to not distract, then why do we need it at all? Are we all so afraid of ourselves that we can't face the silence of our own souls?

We will leave you with these questions to ponder until we come back in two weeks to waste more of your time. Until then, gneeeahimf*ckedup.