I’ve been thinking about the music that is played in labs lately. Most labs have some background noise going on. In my experience, the single most common background sound in a lab is NPR (us scientists love us some NPR). Lagging far behind NPR is weird shit. By weird shit I mean some kind of Brazilian samba, some off-kilter tango or the latest and greatest ultracool band that no one has heard of before. I have to admit, I have no problem with any of this stuff (after all, I loves me some NPR and samba) but do any of us actually listen to this stuff at home (aside from NPR of course).
For the last few weeks I’ve been paying attention to what I hear in other labs, to what I listen to in the office and to what I listen to when working around the house and in the gym.
My ability to hear what is going on in other labs has been greatly enhanced lately by the fact that Juniorprof’s lab is moving. No, I’m not bailing for industry already. We (all the pain groups) got an offer to relocate to a central location and we jumped at the opportunity. Due to this, my lab is changing (slowly but surely) buildings and moving into some swank new digs (I’ll post some pictures of the fab panoramic views soon). I’ve heard much NPR but also a wide variety of other stuff. Lots of Simon and Garfunkel (what’s up with that) in the lab next door. Some Tejano (which I love… long live Selena) in another lab and a variety of other sounds that I’m not quite sure I’d consider music. In my own lab we’ve been listening mostly to some jazz (Stan Getz is a current fav) and as I’ve been wandering into some of the other pain group labs I’ve heard a variety of sambaesque tunes (I have no idea why they’re always playing samba, I should ask).
The music in my office, at home and in the gym is quite different. I’ve always loved hip-hop (L.L. got me hooked with “I’m Bad” back in ’80 something or other) and this is my music of choice in nearly every other location. Lately I’ve been getting back into Tribe Called Quest, some older Jay-Z with a few doses of De La Soul and Beastie Boys thrown in here and there (yeah, I’m old skool). I’ve also been listening to a bit of newer, more electronic, but heavily hip-hop influenced groups like M.I.A. and N.E.R.D.. For some reason, I don’t play it in the lab though. Why is that?
The simple answer is I don’t know. Clearly its not because I think people won’t like it. People play all sorts of crap in labs that others clearly don’t like. I’ve been known to go on a Pink Floyd trip that drives others nuts. I’ve seen others force much worse on their lab mates. Plus, who actually doesn’t like hip-hop? If the radio is any guide, everyone loves it (but not as much as Tejano out here in the desert southwest). Maybe its because I’m afraid people will find it offensive? Don’t think that is the answer either, after all what could be more offensive than Simon and Garfunkel? Maybe its the curse words? Don’t think its that either. Like Physioprof, this profession is full of foul mouths and I’m no exception.
So, it looks like I still don’t have an answer to my question. I do have a simple solution though. Tomorrow, for the first time in the history of laboratory science, Juniorprof is going to play some hip-hop in the lab. I’m gonna kick it off with a classic, Tribe Called Quest’s “People’s Instinctive Travels Through Life and Rhythms”. We’ll see how it goes. One thing is for certain, I’ll be groovin’, bad back and all! Feel free to join in, it might just bring about a revolution in science.