My neighbors hung out a wind chime the other day. They’re really very friendly, outgoing people who always call out a pleasant, “Hi!” when our garage doors are open at the same time. So, what possessed them to cast me into Wind Chime Hell?
Am I really so eccentric that I’m the only one whose nerves start jangling in proportion to the amount of dinging and donging coming from one of those contraptions? I really doubt it. So somebody remind me. What was it that made wind chimes seem like a good idea to anyone — buyer, seller, gift-giver, whomever?
Let me describe a wind chime from my perspective, and then maybe you’ll understand my bad reaction to the hateful things. The one at my neighbor’s back yard gate gets going in any light wind and somehow manages to only hit two notes out of its six possible sounds. So I hear a “Ding-dong, ding-dong” doublet sound just like some prankster ringing a doorbell over and over and over and over again. How’s that for nice? I suppose I should just shout out to my neighbors, “Hey, your wind chime sounds like a broken doorbell,” but maybe they’d just stare at me like I was nuts and say, “No, that’s beautiful music, made by Nature.”
You see, I fear there’s a great gulf between me and the average wind chime fan. I’m a musician who occasionally plays for real money. As such, I know that if I were to play two notes over and over and over and over again, I’d not be asked back to play at that particular nightclub anytime soon. Of course, some wind chimes hit more notes than my neighbors’. Most chimes have 6, 7, or 8 tubes of metal that each play a unique note. So, all right, maybe 8 notes. Now, the musician in me says, “Hey. A piano has 88 keys. A guitar can hit a couple dozen notes. So, how is it that 8 notes are okay? If a musician in one of the big acts I’ve worked with (John Lee Hooker’s band, The Drifters, The Kingsmen, The Beaters) played only eight notes over and over and over and over again, he’d get fired after the first five minutes.
So, why do people think it’s cool to put out a device that repeatedly gongs just 7 or 8 notes, flooding the neighborhood with ding-dong racket? Do they not listen first, and hear the sound of birds chirping, insects buzzing, leaves soughing, and breezes luffing past their ears? I’m thinking that’s it. If you don’t pay attention to the natural sounds all around you, then you might think adding the clangor of a metallic device somehow improves your neighborhood’s soundscape.
And now the inevitable next step has been taken by the mindless forces of capitalism run amok: my local supermarket has begun selling the diabolical contraptions at the end of Aisle 3. It was bad enough when every hardware store started selling them, but now you can just grab one quickly without thinking, in between loading your cart with trans fats and salt. Take it home and hang it up with even less thought, then forget about it. Or give it to someone as a gift and they’ll hang it up and forget it.
Meanwhile, I hope the birds can learn to tweet between ding-dongs, because at the rate wind chimes are spreading, soon there won’t be any places you can go without hearing a wind chime chorus.
So, let’s face the ding-dong truth: wind chimes are noise pollution.