I thought of this again when Vanessa Gebbie tweeted the question, "Writers - do we want or need soundtracks to our e-books."
I do not have any e-books. If I had e-books I would expect them to be silent. I like silence. I can be content with my own thoughts. I do not need an endless stream of radio chatter or music around me.
When I was living in a university hall of residence there were students who would "flip the switch" as soon as they walked into their rooms. This was not the light switch but the switch on their radios. When it became possible to listen to music or the radio on the go they were no doubt among the first to get the devices by which this can be done.
If you go out and about now it is possible to observe people who seem to be permanently attached to their i-pods, MP3 players or whatever the most recent development is. When I travel on the train there is almost always a constant hissing, thumping beat in the background. When I am waiting at traffic lights there will almost always be a car gently shaking to the beat of something which is still called "music". It is just a noise to me. I do not appreciate it.
I have tried. My nephews despair of me - although even they draw the line at much of the most recent "music".
I cannot work against that sort of noise either. I try not to frequent shops which broadcast a radio station or the most recent sounds at a very high decibel level. Even shopping in the local supermarket irritates me because they broadcast a commercial radio station where there are repeated squeals of apparent delight from people who win a CD or a few dollars for tuning in.
Our local independent bookshop also has music in the background. It used to be quiet classical music for the most part. The new owner has different tastes. She plays things that even other customers have mentioned as being "intrusive". Music in a bookshop should surely not intrude on your thoughts?
I suppose our house is different. We do not turn the radio on. We have a small battery operated one for emergency purposes and there is one which is part of the ancient sound system adjacent to the dining area.
There is a collection of records there my mother occasionally listened to but they have scarcely been touched since she died. We are not often in that part of the house. My father and I have some CDs but my father is usually in the garden or the shed. In the evening he prefers to read - with silence in the background.
I do know music. There are things I like very much but I rarely want them to intrude into my listening space.
Even without allowing music to intrude into my listening space I am not sure I am fully aware of the value of silence.