Music to whose ears?

Every generation hates its children's music. But the latest alarm may be a little premature.

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As rock 'n' roll music rocketed in popularity, half a century ago, it came to be known, to many who disapproved of it, as the devil's music. Since then successive generations of parents, forgetting their own youth, have warned their children not to poison their ears with the latest style of "immoral" tunes.

Some songs, of course, are to be avoided for their sheer awfulness. Listening to bad music is its own punishment. However, we are now being told that a certain type of music literally poisons your mind.

As The National reported yesterday, a Sharjah-based police scientist is calling for a ban on certain types of "hypnotic" sounds because of the effects they are designed to produce on the listener.

Sarhan Al Meheini believes digital files called "binaural beats", used to alter states of consciousness for meditation or alertness or to aid sleep, can mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy - and so should be dealt with in the same way.

Though we are sceptical that binaural noise is as harmful as illicit narcotics, some people have reportedly had violent reactions to the beats. So absent definitive data perhaps it would be wise to pay extra attention to what your children are listening to - just as your parents did years ago.