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PalenqueBob Sep 10th, 2007 10:19 AM

EU Tells Orchestras to Quiet Down
BBC has reported another case of Brusselscrats gone wild - this time limited the noise level of orchestras to 85 decibels (if i remember correctly)

I didn't know orchestras were so loud

I wonder if they've ruled on hard rock and metal acts as well - would think they would be much louder than Opera or Orchestras - Pavorotti excepted perhaps

Can this really be true? Toning down orchestras?

waring Sep 10th, 2007 10:27 AM

Doesn't surprise me.

European Bureaucracy is based on the French system, whereby 30% of the population is employed making up things to make laws about.

PatrickLondon Sep 10th, 2007 10:30 AM

Source? I can't find anything on the BBC website, though I know this has been an issue of some concern - there are all sorts of RSI and other health problems for instrumentalists.

I suspect that you may have picked up nothing more than an early discussion of possible measures. EU policymaking and legislation is a deliberately slow process.

PalenqueBob Sep 10th, 2007 10:32 AM

No it could have been NPR (BBC is often on NPR at night, thus the confusion but it definitely said a law passed to limit decibels in EU

me i don't know - maybe they were confused (NPR) was just on last night i think

laverendrye Sep 10th, 2007 10:37 AM

Here's the reference:

alanRow Sep 10th, 2007 10:38 AM

It's to protect the members of the orchestra who can have rather loud instruments a few inches from their ears

With popular music combos there's very little noise on the stage itself with most of the noise hitting the audience,00.html

Dukey Sep 10th, 2007 10:44 AM

Waring, is there <b>anything</b> bad that France <b>isn't</b> responsible for in your opinion?

PatrickLondon Sep 10th, 2007 10:45 AM

Got it! I knew I remembered hearing something about it in the past:,00.html

The Council of Ministers and Parliament agreed a Directive on noise at work in 2003, which member states had to write into national legislation by Feb 2006, with a two-year transitional period for music and entertainment (since that's nearly up, that must be what this story's about).

It doesn't say &quot;Stop it, whatever you're doing&quot;. It says employers have to provide proper assessments, hearing tests and support where hearing is affected and, if regular exposure is above 85dB, to set up programmes to reduce the noise at source and/or limit exposure. So the only people who have anything to fear next February are orchestra and concert hall managements who just haven't taken any notice.

And it's not off the agenda for the US OSHA, by the way.

waring Sep 10th, 2007 11:00 AM

&quot;Waring, is there anything bad that France isn't responsible for in your opinion?&quot;

Not at all, they are very good at some stuff, and totally appalling at others.

Good stuff includes French cuisine, wine, art, poetry, cinema, pretty girls and quality of life in general.

Bad stuff includes bureaucracy, pop music, dancing, night clubs, brewing beer and a total incapacity to replicate decent Asian food.

I have a love/hate relationship with France.

Wouldn't live anywhere else and it drives me nuts :)

hanl Sep 10th, 2007 12:16 PM

From the horse's mouth...

PalenqueBob Sep 10th, 2007 12:19 PM

i wonder why the musicians can't wear earplugs like rockers do - would it affect their music

the BBc link i read said nothing about earplugs.

Michael Sep 10th, 2007 12:36 PM

My viola teacher said that violists, particularly those on the back stands often wear earplugs or at least one in the ear that is oriented toward the brass section and that there are small plastic screens behind them to mitigate the full blast of the trombones.

PatrickLondon Sep 10th, 2007 01:35 PM

Here are some figures on what noise levels have been measured at, and possible impacts of the Directive:

The Word version has a diagram of noise patterns overlaid on a typical orchestra layout.

twk Sep 10th, 2007 01:47 PM

PB: I'd hate to imagine the appalling cacophony generated by an orchestra full of people wearing ear plugs. Those instruements don't tune themselves, and you have to be able to hear clearly to get yourself in tune with the ensemble.

Strad Sep 10th, 2007 02:34 PM

Interesting thread. I've been a professional symphony musician for many years; while I frequently use earplugs, they're rarely in for the entire piece-- typically I'll mark my music during rehearsal where the earplugs go in, and where I'll take them out. Using them is rather like typing with gloves on-- awkward, but it beats the alternative of going prematurely deaf! Many orchestras are required by the terms of their contracts with the musicians to supply earplugs at all services (where I work, there's always a big box of them backstage.) It's a relatively cheap way to protect the health of the musicians.

Michael Sep 10th, 2007 02:34 PM


earplugs do not eliminate all sound. I use a practice mute on my viola, and while a listener can hardly hear the instrument at all, I can hear it perfectly well. It simply has no resonance. That is similar to lowering the sound by wearing earplugs.

wliwl Sep 10th, 2007 03:01 PM

I definitely see the musicians in front of the trumpets using earplugs - especially during rehearsals, although some wear them during performances too. Also, I know for a fact that many accompanists of trumpet players wear ear plugs.

twk Sep 10th, 2007 07:41 PM

Sure, you can hear enough to play, but to try and tune with an ensemble while wearing earplugs? Maybe those who play on a really high level could do it, or then again, maybe those who just don't give a damn could. I don't know, maybe some professional orchestral players can correct me on this.

I'm a fan of earplugs for sleeping, and I've worn them at a rock concert to eliminate reverb in a notoriously bad acoustical setting, but I just can't imagine using them for this particular problem.

nona1 Sep 10th, 2007 11:49 PM

An utter non-story yet again. PB - you do know that inventing 'barmy EEC' stories is just a sort of sport over here, you are not supposed to take them seriously.

flanneruk Sep 11th, 2007 12:22 AM

We're not supposed to take these &quot;non-stories&quot; seriously because the EU kleptocrats really don't like the idea their ideas might get discussed in the press or that laws might be determimed by electorates.

So we get these utterly spurious &quot;Euromyth&quot; allegations.

The &quot;horse's mouth&quot; hanl drags out is a five-year old bureaucrats' propaganda sheet that - utterly falsely - claims to be a &quot;rebuttal&quot;, and hasn't even been updated in the past five years. It alleges the directive &quot;should only apply to the music and entertainment industry five years after it comes into force&quot; (ie now) - as if that didn't matter.

Well of course it doesn't matter because the Eurocrats will have gone on to another job by then. But Euro-collaborators can still quote this snowjob, as if it disproves what a properly critical press said when the damnfool idea was first dreamt up.

See, it's not whether or not music's going to have to be quiet that matters. It's the consistent half-truths about EU proposals that its propaganda agency churns out, and the gullibilty with which Euro-collaborators buy into Micromanagement Denial.

Often, there's a really good reason for EU micromanagement - which is rarely even on the same planet of lunatic nitpicking that America's USDA or OSHA can churn out. But at least the Yank penpushers have the honesty to accept they're interfering, and the respect for the electorate that pays their wages to explain how and why the lunacy is going to work.

For the gravy-train riders in Brussels and their apologists throughout the Common Market (as it was known the only time we ever had the chance to vote on it), voters simply don't count.

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