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Why is music necessary in restaurants?

I never got the idea of music in restaurants. And, because I am a hearing aid wearer, I have come to really dislike music in restaurants! It's difficult enough to have a conversation with the person across the table (or even in the seat beside me at times) without having to try to discern words over music. Hearing aids act as amplifiers. Their primary short-comings are that they don't do a good job of filtering out background noise and they don't help with clarity. It doesn't help if you speak loudly to me, it helps if you enunciate. Music merely makes it more difficult to understand what's being said. And music, in places that folks with normal hearing think are noisy, just adds to the problem. Can we do without the music?

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  1. In my experience, there are a couple of reasons restaurants usually have music. One is to set an image or to create or enhance an atmosphere. The other is privacy. Generally, if background music is being employed correctly, diners cannot clearly hear the conversations at neighboring tables.

    1. It appears to be an American phenomenon; one of the things I enjoyed most about eating in France and Italy was the lack of any soundtrack beyond the murmur of conversation and the gentle scrape of cutlery. My favorite restaurant here in Pasadena from that standpoint is Maison Akira, where the music is baroque and classical chamber music played just loudly enough to listen to if you want to, but quietly enough so that one may converse in normal tones. When we're discussing loud vs. quiet here on Chowhound, however, I am usually very much in the minority; most folks nowadays equate "quiet" with "boring", and "loud" with "exciting". Hey, I just want to be excited about the food …

      1. Music also helps to drown out the sounds of eating, chewing, crunching and slurping which some, in this culture, might find rather distastful. And I DO know that in certain Asian cultures, slurping your noodles is a demonstration of respect to the food preparer.

        1. " murmur of conversation and the gentle scrape of cutlery"
          Love how you wrote that Will. Beautifully put.... :)

          I don't get it either.

          I took my mom to the doctor a couple of years ago for extensive testing of this and that.

          Being elderly, it wasn't easy to get her to do the things expected of her, the pain of needles etc. and how do you got a person into one of those MRI machines and explain that it's necessary I'd like to know.

          Anyway, lunch was in order as both of us were hungry and she'd done really well at the Dr. Mexican place across the street from the hospital was close and who doesn't like Mexican food?

          The music was loud, obnoxious and MF-ing words. I mean those were the words to the songs being played there. Loud MF-ing words for me to eat by, really? And for mom to listen to really? I went looking for a person to address my issue with to ask them how appropriate that CRAP was and couldn't find anyone. As we sat and waited for our meal, I was steaming fuming mad. Food came, I told them I'd been looking for anyone that worked there to turn that garbage off, they didn't understand my problem or concern and placed our food in front of us. I took mom out right then. Mom didn't understand why I took her out but we ended up in Bob's Big Boy for a burger instead where no music of any kind was on the airwaves, thankfully.

          I agree, I vote for no music.

          3 Replies
          1. re: iL Divo

            To me, the " murmur of conversation and the gentle scrape of cutlery", along with the sounds of chewing, cell phones, and othe ambient noise is cacaphony, like trying to hear the television when a vacuum cleaner is running. Music, almost any music, as long as it is not so loud as to be interuptive, is fine by me. But I suppose we all have different threshholds of what constitutes 'interuptive'.

            1. re: iL Divo

              So did they turn the music on after you'd been seated and placed your orders? Because if it was playing when you walked in, **that** would have been the time to leave. Not after you got your food. (Which I certainly hope you paid for; ordering food and then walking out after it's been delivered is theft, plain and simple.)

            2. I can happily do without the music. Thankfully, it is not common where I am.

              It is either too loud so that it interupts. Or it is too quiet - so you can't quite make out that song that you're sure you really know really well, which interrupts while you're trying to work it out.