11/2/2010 3:38 AM
Music — The Gateway Drug?
Of all the weird Internet flaps that hit the world from
time to time, the whole concept of i-drugs has to be
one of the more unusual. Based on the theory of binaural
beats—that certain sounds, when played back
through headphones, can emulate the effect that different
drugs have on the brain—i-drugs have become
a new bogeyman for those who find things like the
Internet and electronic music evil. Some go so far as
to say that this type of sound serves as a kind of gateway
drug, either by getting people more accepting of
real drugs, or because if they don’t get the promised
high from the i-drugs, they’ll go get real drugs.
News flash!! Music has been getting people high
for centuries. Whether we’re talking about the pan
pipers of Joujouka, electronic trance music, Dark Side
of the Moon, or just someone getting all misty-eyed
when they hear Cyndi Lauper sing “Time after Time,”
music has profound effects on the brain. This is news?
I admit it: Bach makes me high. However, I never
take off the headphones after listening to the
Branderburgs and say, “Well, I guess I should go
get some heroin now!” A lot of the fear-mongering
seems to involve electronic music, like trance,
techno, etc. Admittedly, these already have a reputation
of being associated with drug use, particularly
ecstasy. But seriously, it’s just music. I have yet to
see a study that shows i-drugs provide anything
more than a placebo effect, or that they create
effects beyond what you’d get from listening to any
trancey-type music when you’re relaxed and grooving
with a pair of good headphones.
C’mon, watchdogs of the public good . . . you
have many more important things to worry about
than whether people playing synthesizers in studios
are going to turn your kids into drug addicts. And to
the readers of this magazine, all I can say is that if
the music you make gets me as high as the Brandenburgs,
more power to you—and thanks!