Is restaurant music becoming too loud?

Photo credit: ELEVATE

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Is music in restaurants becoming too loud? No, it’s not becoming too loud. Music in restaurants has been too loud for years! But award-winning food writer Clare Finney has a wonderful essay in the online magazine Delicious, titled: “Head-banging tunes or stony silence …  is music in restaurants becoming too loud?” This has once again prompted me to write about restaurant noise.

Finney makes an interesting point that many prominent new chefs in the United Kingdom have backgrounds in music, either as performers or DJs. I don’t know if that’s true here in the United States, but it’s an interesting coincidence. Finney quotes chef Stephen Harris, who compares creating new dishes with recording and playing in a band. “I’m obsessed with perfect pitch … I like things that are right and in balance – the harmonic wave that goes through your head and creates a pleasurable feeling,” he said. “Umami is depth – the bass – and the treble is like adding acidity.”

Perfect pitch is the ability to identify a note when hearing it, or some singers’ ability to sing any note on demand. “I want everything to taste perfectly of what it’s supposed to taste of, for a tomato to taste like tomato, no flatter or sharper, just like a perfectly-tuned C [note],” Harris said.

Most importantly, Finney understands that most people don’t go to a restaurant only when they’re too tired or lazy to prepare food at home. Or, for me and my wife, when dishes involve hard-to-find ingredients or too much time and effort. Diners also want to talk with their companions. Other than a quick bite in the morning on the way to work, or during a lunch break, “that’s the point of eating out, after all: to enjoy good food and good conversation,” Finney writes.

Ambient noise in restaurants is a disability right issue for those with auditory disorders. Quieter restaurants would also help those without auditory disorders, such as parents who crane their necks to hear what their kids are saying. A quieter world will be a better, more enjoyable and healthier world for all.

Share this article:

Article Categories

Search Articles