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Mozart and Bach Handel Subway Station Crime 353

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the youth-flee-iron-maiden dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that transit officials have started to get a handel on subway crime when they started playing Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Strauss at the Lake Street light-rail station after neighborhood residents complained about the station becoming a haven for rowdy teens and vagrants. 'If it encourages some people to wander away because it's not their favorite type of music, I guess that's OK,' says Acting Transit Police Chief A.J. Olson. The program is modeled after one is Portland that has shown early signs of success, though the numbers are so small as to be statistically insignificant and even supporters of the music haven't reached a consensus on whether such environmental changes actually deter crime or just push it down the block. Not everyone is sold on using 'lovely lovely Ludwig Van' as a deterrent. 'Classical music lovers hate the fact that urban planners use classical music to disperse youth,' says Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff. 'Does it chase crime away?' adds Olson. 'It's hard to measure. But I do think it makes it a more pleasant place to wait for a train.'"
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Mozart and Bach Handel Subway Station Crime

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  • How much does it cost to do this and how much less does the city have to pay for security?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:31AM (#39030731)

      I woke up. The pain and sickness all over me like an animal. Then I realized what it was. The music coming up from the floor was our old friend, Ludwig Van, and the dreaded Ninth Symphony.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Canazza (1428553) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:39AM (#39030759)

      all this means is that anyone witnessing a crime there will feel like they're watching a Clockwork Orange.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nxcho (754392) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:02AM (#39030847)
      It is probably very cheap since the music is public domain and the speakers is probably already in place. For scientific purposes they should not only compare the classical music with not music but also with a music perceived as crime inducing, such as gangsta rap.
      • by flyneye (84093)

        Yes the music is in the public domain, but not the performance. The need for music once again shows the folly of copyright. Forever music is naturally free .live performance is paid and there is no workable in-between for a parasite to thrive. Kicking the shit out of music industry lackeys in the subway is not only necessary, but encouraged.( The tourists will love it)

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:43AM (#39031009)
        Rock/Rap are variants that have stemmed from minalist music. Their appeal musically (when you ignore the words) is a more primal emotion. Clasical period music was designed to express more complex set of emotions.
        Teens in general are just full of primal emotions so they are attracted by rock and rap, when they get older and their primal forces cool down they start to enjoy classical music as it begins to reach them emotionally.
        Now when kids are exposed to the music it gets their brain working as it exercises those emotions that are not much in practice. So they will leave as some how the exersize is too much for them to handle, or they will try to embrace it and giving more work to the brain and temporary quelling those primal urges.
        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:20AM (#39031133) Homepage

          There's plenty of classical music with emotional depth less than http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABWyXKT5qt4 [youtube.com], and plenty of rock with highly layered complexity.

          I think a lot of it has to do with identity; teens are typically looking for something to distinguish themselves from their parents yet associate with their peers. A musical style which is not like previous music styles is an ideal medium to do so, especially if their parents hate it. This has been the case for many generations, including what we now call "classical music".

          As a nice side effect, this produces a constant stream of musical (re)-invention with the occasional masterpiece that every person could enjoy.
          The rest will be forgotten just like all mediocre musicians/composers/artists in times of classical music.

        • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by windcask (1795642) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:23AM (#39031153) Homepage Journal

          Rock/Rap are variants that have stemmed from minimalist music.

          ...no. There is certainly rock music out there that incorporates elements of minimalist music, but rock came directly from blues, which came from a combination of jazz, folk and Christian gospel music.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slim (1652)

          Patronising, over-general and wrong, in my opinion.

          Some rock and hip-hop is indeed very basic and primal, and good luck to 'em. The Stooges can get the juices flowing as effectively as Wagner (presumably this tube station isn't playing Ride Of The Valkyries in an attempt to calm teenagers down...).

          Some rock and hip-hop is vastly more rhythmically, emotionally and tonally sophisticated than any of the popular Bach, Mozart, Handel, Beethoven era works. The post-Kid-A Radiohead albums would have many people sc

          • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by catmistake (814204) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:03AM (#39032709) Journal

            Some rock and hip-hop is vastly more rhythmically, emotionally and tonally sophisticated than any of the popular Bach, Mozart, Handel, Beethoven era works. The post-Kid-A Radiohead albums would have many people scurrying back to The Magic Flute for something less emotionally and technically challenging. Jimi Hendrix throws more sophisticated chords into a single song than you'll hear in the whole of Don Giovanni.

            Clearly, you haven't been listening closely enough. Of the entire catalog of rock/pop, close to 90% of it is in the Major keys of G, D, E, or A (pretty much in that order) and 100% uses progressions based on fifths, and exclusively with either ionian modes or a pentatonic scale, and rhythmically is always between 100bpm and 120bpm or multiples or derivitives of tempos in Moderato. In fact, I believe it is quite possible to reduce every single rock/pop song since to either one of David Bowie's offerings or that of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Thus, not more sophisticated, complex nor muscially richer than the classical compositions. Just try reducing Beethoven's works to that of Mozart's, or Mozart's to Bach's... certainly related, but not reducible.

            btw, Hendrix is merely an exceptional blues guitar player. The Blues technically is reducable to one of two modes of Jazz, thus Jazz will be richer and more sophisticated than Blues, and you mention no Jazz artists.

            And to suggest Kid Rock is a composer... is absurd. He's an entertainer and a businessman, recently a philanthropist... but I have serious doubts he will even achieve any footnote in history (no offense, Kid... you are loved).

        • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:56AM (#39031329) Homepage

          Your proposition is interesting, but wrong.

          For instance, there's absolutely no influence on Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode (1958) or Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel (1956) from Terry Riley's In C (1964) or Steve Reich's Come Out (1965). You're right that minimalism influenced a lot of later bands, but there's a clear tradition (as far as anyone can tell, developed mostly by African-Americans) in both rock and rap music stemming from blues that has little if anything to do with the minimalist composers.

          The biggest barrier to classical music influencing kids is not the complexity of the emotional content, it's that there are frequently no words (which prevents a lot of people from thinking they understand it) and that popular culture has put a big effort into making it seem like classical music is only for dorks and old people. This is why I like introducing kids to heavy metal versions of Vivaldi.

    • by mcavic (2007672)
      They'll probably still need the same number of security people. But reduced crime is a benefit in itself. More people willing to ride the subway means more revenue. More tourism maybe, fewer people in jail soaking up tax dollars, etc.
      • by slim (1652)

        More people willing to ride the subway means more revenue.

        What about the people (of all ages) less willing to ride the subway because of the irritating music?

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:38AM (#39030993) Homepage

      Every train station I've seen, including simple platforms, has most of the equipment for this anyway. In this case you've just got music playing the whole time and some kind of ducker to quash the music when the announcements play.

      They may not know for sure if it's working yet, but this seems like one of the least complicated or expensive options to try out. It certainly beats hiring more security, the presence of which only makes things seem worse.

      • In Japan they've been playing music in the Toyoko subway for some time now. They also have a theme for each station and the music plays to announce the departure of the trains. A rider on the train can know what station they are at by the music. The Takadanobaba station plays the theme to Tetsuwan Atom (Astroboy) since that is where Tezuka set Atom's birthplace.

  • by fiaskow (1685940) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:57AM (#39030513)
    Maybe they got a 'Händel' on crime.
  • What? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    [...]has shown early signs of success, though the numbers are so small as to be statistically insignificant [...]

    In other words, no significant effect of the music on crime statistics has been measured. Or am I missing something?

    • What, "What"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:04AM (#39030577)

      Since when do the real numbers matter? What really matters is that some politician has shown to "Fight against Crime" (note the capital letters, those are important).

      People demand that action is taken against the nuisances and crime. Whether the action actually works is really not so important, as the results of pretty much every election around the world show.

      A feeling of safety is far more emotional than rational. So, go away with your statistics, and leave us emotional non-rational people alone.

      And obviously, in about a year from now, we demand Action against Crime. Again.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Or am I missing something?"

      Yep, the copyright has expired for those songs, that's the real reason.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      [...]has shown early signs of success, though the numbers are so small as to be statistically insignificant [...]

      In other words, no significant effect of the music on crime statistics has been measured. Or am I missing something?

      Does the MAFIAA know about this?

    • by mcavic (2007672)

      In other words, no significant effect of the music on crime statistics has been measured.

      It means they have seen an effect, but it's just one city, and a small number of people. Theoretically it could be attributed to something else, like say a change in air quality.

      • or just to plain old random chance.

        All that statisitically significant means is "if the null hypothosis* is true the chances of results as bad or worse (for the null hypothosis) as those we obtained are below a given value".

        It does not tell you what the correct alternate hypothosis is nor does it tell you with certainty that the null hypothosis is wrong.

        And in particular finding something isn't statistically significant doesn't nessacerally mean the null hypothosis is right.

        * The null hypothosis basically s

  • by lorinc (2470890) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:57AM (#39030523) Homepage Journal

    The first and foremost advantage is to have a pleasant wait for your train. I would love to have classical music at my train stations.

    If it can act as a deterrent for inamical people, I take it as a bonus.

    • by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:23AM (#39030691)

      They've done this at a few London Underground stations since 2005 [guardian.co.uk] and since 2004 [bbc.co.uk] on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

      In London, the music was played over the existing announcement system's speakers, so it was horribly distorted. Fortunately, it was only around the station entrance, not the actual platforms, so I could wait in peace.

      • by chrb (1083577) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:35AM (#39030965)
        They do it in Brussels too. [bbc.co.uk] The classical music is played on the Metro there in evenings, during the day they play English language pop (no French or Dutch to avoid antagonising people). I'm not aware of any crime statistics, but a local told me that when they introduced it she did notice a big effect on the groups of youths that used to hang around the stations. The article says something similar about this latest experiment, "Young people quit hanging out at one Portland station 'almost immediately' after classical music began playing, Scruggs said."
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          For some reason groups of menacing youths don't hang around on the Japanese metro, so there is no need for music. Perhaps we should look at fixing the cause rather than treating the symptom.

      • by smchris (464899)

        I think the horrible speakers are an important factor in Minneapolis as well.

    • by gmack (197796)

      That is provided the do it consistently. There is a convenience store on the west island of Montreal that does this. Outside they were playing a nice symphony on shockingly good speakers but inside they were playing annoying pop music. Never before in my life have I found standing outside a store so much more enjoyable than inside.

  • by mitashki (1116893) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:00AM (#39030547) Homepage
    Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Strauss - The Gangbusters
  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:00AM (#39030549) Journal

    This isn't a particularly new idea. I know that certain shopping centres here in the UK have been using it for quite some time.

    I've got mixed feelings. It's certainly unpleasant to have large groups of feral youths hanging around shopping centres and in principle, something that encourages them to be elsewhere without much fuss is a good thing. On the other hand... it just shifts the problem around. I'd rather have the gang of feral youths stood menacingly inside the brightly lit CCTV-infested shopping centre than in the unlit, unguarded car park outside.

    At least using music for this is better than some of the alternatives. I know that one idea that was briefly used was high pitched noise emitters - the theory being that with young people generally being able to hear higher ranges than adults, only they would be irritated by the noise. I objected to this one very strongly indeed - the noise was outright painful (my hearing is odd - I'm bad at sorting conversation from background noise, but seem to have retained my ability to hear very high ranges) and it was indiscriminate. It was offensive to the "good kid" going shopping for their parents as it was to the feral youth looking for his next mugging victim. I seem to remember that particular trick had to be pulled due to legal reasons.

    I guess I also have some gut concerns about whether this impinges on rights such as freedom of assembly. I guess if it's being used on private property, then it's fine. On subways... that seems a bit more morally dubious.

    And as for the choice of music... I don't think classical music lovers should be particularly offended. Though as somebody who is relatively fond of classical music, I will admit that taken out of place, it can be intrusive. Anybody reading this who commutes through London's Victoria Station will be aware that every few weeks they have some opera singer (and supporting instrumentation) there, collecting money for a cancer research charity. I know it's for a good cause and I shouldn't whinge but... when you're waiting for a delayed train and just want to get home after a long day, the singing, while perfectly "cultured", due to its volume and pitch, can be as intrusive and offensive as blazingly loud gangsta rap would be.

    • by jlar (584848)

      Here is a link for a previous slashdot article on something similar:

      http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/03/04/0258221/using-classical-music-as-a-form-of-social-control [slashdot.org]

      But maybe it is in fact just driving the youth away and not just criminal types:

      http://tech.slashdot.org/story/05/11/30/0021211/driving-away-teens-with-high-frequency-noise [slashdot.org]

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      They've been playing classical music at Brixton tube station for at least two or three years, on and off, and only in the evening I think.

      Unfortunately, the PA system is so uniformly shitty that it doesn't sound much better than the tinny music coming out of kids mobiles. Would be much nicer if they could give the lady violinist with dreadlocks who I often see at Stockwell a permanent spot.

    • I'd rather have the gang of feral youths stood menacingly inside the brightly lit CCTV-infested shopping centre than in the unlit, unguarded car park outside.

      You know, Those youths can buy milk in those shopping centres, and if you couple that with the classical music, well, this could all turn ugly like clockwork. I just don't think that kind of approach is very fruitful in the long run.

    • by Suferick (2438038)
      It's even worse in December, when some well-meaning but not very competent choir starts singing carols. there's only so much you can put up with for 'charidee'.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:43AM (#39031255)
      My understanding from a previous article that I read (which I cannot find at the moment) was that there was evidence that suggested that playing classical music did not so much drive away youths intent on crime as create an atmosphere where they were less comfortable committing crime. There have been several studies that show that when a city street with abandoned cars, abundant litter, buildings with broken windows and grafitti is cleaned up (abandoned cars and litter removed, windows fixed and grafitti painted over) crime is reduced along it by larger margins than any other possible action (with the possile exception of a 24/7 police presence). The earlier article I read led me to believe that studies suggested that playing classical music had a similar effect. That is, it reduced the impulse to crime among those listening to it.
      I do know that studies have shown that playing classical music in a retail outlet tends to increase sales (I am sure that there are stores which target particular demographics where this would not be true). I, also, seem to recall that it reduced shoplifting, but that may have been a comment by a store security expert rather than the result of a study.
      • The idea that you allude to is called the Broken Windows Theory (not to be confused with The Broken Window Fallacy, which is unrelated). Unfortunately, it appears to have about the same amount of supporting evidence as it has contradictory evidence.
    • by fgouget (925644)

      [...] On the other hand... it just shifts the problem around. I'd rather have the gang of feral youths stood menacingly inside the brightly lit CCTV-infested shopping centre than in the unlit, unguarded car park outside.

      And maybe that's the solution: instead of playing classical music to chase away the 'feral youths', attract them to an area under video camera surveillance with gansta rap. Then if anything happens, immediately dispatch the police car that was just out of sight nearby.

      Ok, as is that plan won't really work<g>. What about creating places where they would listen to music and do interesting stuff? Maybe you could call them youth centers?

  • I would also go with Eno's "Music for Airports". A wonderful piece that does wonders with the stressful atmosphere of contemporary travel.

    • Re:Brian Eno (Score:5, Informative)

      by nanoflower (1077145) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:32AM (#39030735)
      They can't do that because they would have to pay for every time they played any of the songs. One of the advantages of using Bach, Handel and Mozart is that no one is collecting royalties on their music and you can find royalty free performances. So they can play the music 24/7 without having to pay anyone for that performance.
      • But if you already have ASCAP and BMI licenses, it's effectively free.
      • by rioki (1328185)
        That is not totally true. They need to pay the people who performed/made for the recording. Sure the royalties are not as base. In addition many have some blanket deals for music in public places, these are quite affordable no matter what music you play.
  • Won't work (Score:5, Funny)

    by hippo (107522) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:02AM (#39030563) Homepage

    Just moves the crime so its haydn somewhere else.

    • by cc1984_ (1096355)

      You think you're so funny, but loitering in chopin complexes is no joke

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MadKeithV (102058)

        You think you're so funny, but loitering in chopin complexes is no joke

        It's not very high on my lizst.

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      To track where they go, youths will also be added to a government watch liszt.

  • Hate it. (Score:4, Informative)

    by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:34AM (#39030747) Homepage

    I'm 38 years old. Definitely not a troublemaker. I have a legitimate reason to be waiting at train stations.

    And I hate Handel and Mozart. Why should I be subjected to it?

    Also, I can clearly hear those high pitched "mosquito" tones that are meant to disperse young people. Again, why should I be subjected to it?

    And what about law abiding young people?

    • Re:Hate it. (Score:4, Funny)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:54AM (#39031311) Journal

      And what about law abiding young people?

      A tiny minority. Most youths are like the scary ones on TV, always burning stuff and getting into trouble you know :-P

    • by sker (467551)
      I agree. Also, I hate the color yellow. Why should I be subjected to the color yellow at the edge of the platform? I'd stay away from the edge even if it weren't yellow, thus having any yellow in the station is an unreasonable and unfair imposition on my rights. I am sure there are other people who would avoid the edge of the platform sans a yellow edge, thus validating my point.
  • by guttentag (313541) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:53AM (#39030817) Journal
    Playing classical music that is no longer protected by copyright and performed for the purpose of free redistribution/public performance keeps the IP lawyers away. They can't stand to hear anything that cannot be used as the basis of a lawsuit. Interestingly enough, keeping the lawyers off the streets may reduce crime more than keeping rowdy teens away.

    We may be on to something here... what can we play in public places to keep bank execs away? Anyone have audio transcripts of Congressional inquiries into the subprime mortgage crisis [gpoaccess.gov]? I'd like to play that loudly on my phone the next time I'm standing in line at the bank... if everyone did that, it would be better than a sea of Guy Fawkes masks.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:04AM (#39030859) Homepage Journal
    It will work for awhile. But once everyone starts doing it everywhere, a new strain of harpsichord-loving crack dealer will emerge and be more difficult to eradicate. They'll try changing the music to polka, which will work for awhile. The city needs to decide who the people are and talk to them. Otherwise these effects are like a bright kitchen light on cockroaches, it doesn't get to the root of the city's problems. Who knows, maybe these kids are like the hippies whom city elders wanted off the lawns and parks in 1966. Maybe there's a Steve Jobs or Wozniak milling around under the streetlights. I know a lot of really nice high school kids who'd probably leave if you played classical music at them... which was always the problem with that soap, it killed the good bacteria and let staph grow in its place.
  • "...such environmental changes actually deter crime or just push it down the block. Not everyone is sold on using 'lovely lovely Ludwig Van' as a deterrent."

    So somewhere, some when there is a person who believes a little Bethoven will so move teenage youth to give up all crime, and become law abiding citizens. And they say the perpetual youth are the delusional.

  • For some reason, people have an apathy to this kind of music when they are young. when older, its different.

  • by jandersen (462034) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:30AM (#39030949)

    Hopefully, over time, this will attract a better class of muggers.

    Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
    Galloping through the sward
    Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
    And his horse Concorde
    He steals from the rich
    And gives to the poor
    Mr. Moore, Mr. Moore, Mr. Moore

  • 'Classical music lovers hate the fact that urban planners use classical music to disperse youth,' says Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff.

    Oh, God. Another group of fucking elitists. Instead of being happy more people are exposed to classical music they're going to complain. "No! Don't use our favorite thing on the masses! They aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate this music." They're just like the Apple fans upset the new iPhone doesn't look significantly different from the previous model so

  • They're just hoping to get a better class of criminals.

  • Perhaps we could extend this to a treatment for offenders.....
  • by windcask (1795642) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:12AM (#39031115) Homepage Journal

    They could, as an alternative, start playing avant-modern classical, like Penderecki, Webern, Xenakis. The subway station with the least crime is the one with no patrons at all.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      They could, as an alternative, start playing avant-modern classical, like Penderecki, Webern, Xenakis. The subway station with the least crime is the one with no patrons at all.

      True. I would also suggest Nickelback, but that would probably have the reverse effect and actually cause crime.

  • by DaPhil (811162) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:42AM (#39033209)
    I read about a clever piece of work by some town officials in a German town to drive away teens hanging around a certain area at night (drinking and harrassing people).

    What they did was install a light usually used by dermatologists which highlights unclean skin -- pimples and the like.

    The teens stayed away.

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