Mahler, Interrupted, Explained

January 17, 2012

Recently I linked to a story about an interruption of a performance of Mahler's 9th Symphony. Apparently an iPhone "Marimba" ring tone was heard repeatedly duing the final moments of the final movement. The ring tone was persistent enough that the conductor stopped the performance and confronted the issue.

At the time of the original story I, along with most other people I guess, thought evil thoughts about the idiot who didn't silence his phone before the performance and, even worse, didn't stop it from sounding during the performance. As it turns out the unlucky patron had been isseud a new iPhone by his employer, replacing a BlackBerry, and was unaware that an alarm had been set, and that it would sound even if the mute swtich was engaged on the phone.

The ensuing online discussion has be fascinating to follow. Should the mute silence all sounds the phone makes or only the ringer? Does the mute perform exactly as intended? Should there be a set of settings that allows you to configure the mute function? Or perhaps, should the phone use its location awareness to know where it is okay to sound alarms and where not?

Sibylle and I are always careful to remind each other to "mute" our phones when we attend performances, however in light of the Mahler interruption I am now planning on turning my phone completely off during performances.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.