Music to Drill By

After sailing for almost 40 years I have had the pleasure watching the drilling program evolve from a very basic science platform to a highly sophisticated floating laboratory.

The changes have been phenomenal.  But in one area there has been no change — the need for music to fill the air.  This need is instinctive and where ever people get together music must follow, and a drill ship is no different.


Willing Technicians

Forty years ago when the Deep Sea Drilling Project was just starting, adding music was not quite as easy, nor was it as personal.  Your only choice then was the use of a cassette player which the Project dutifully bought.  While the Project furnished some tapes, the scientists and technicians usually brought their own supply of favorite music.  So along with the player and tapes, all you needed were wires running around the lab to speakers tucked here and there which the technicians willingly and quickly installed.

Long Hair, Short Hair

You would think that all would be hunky dory and everyone would be happy.  But this was the late 60s and our culture was undergoing a major revolution.  The techs were young, many with long hair, and they had their own brand of music.  The scientists, who tended to be older and a whole lot more conservative, usually had short hair and were accustomed to a more restrictive society.  The youth loved their music loud, the scientists preferred more moderate levels of sound.

And while there were the usual battles over the volume, these paled into insignificance compared to the battles over the type of music.  The techs were into the Rolling Stones, Areosmith, and groups of that ilk while the scientists generally preferred the more sedate music, music that soothed the souls, not music that survived on hormones.

Hell or High Water

As technology moved on with cassettes giving way to CDs, the turf battles over music continued unabated.  The biggest wars in the Core Labs would be initiated by someone changing the CD being played to their music.  The rule was hard and fast: Thou shall not touch a CD being played.  Whoever put it in had the right to listen to the entire CD of their choice come hell and high water.  People would hover over the CD player as a CD ended so they could exact revenge by playing their music for an hour.

Technology to the Rescue

But technology has come to the rescue and has tamed the music wars.  Walk in the Core Lab now and it can be eerily quiet no music what so ever.  A look around and one immediately notices everyone has ear buds that are connected to a MP3 player or, more likely, an iPod.  Everyone is listening to their own music and not offending anyone.  Of course no one is listening to “new” music either so there is some loss.

Remarkable Change

But there is now a more remarkable change.  As the average age of the technical staff has increased compared to the scientists the cultural gap between scientists and techs has disappeared and there are actually discussions about music groups, their music, and the various types of music.  And the discussions are civil without the shouting that had occurred in the past.  While it was always interesting to see how people respond to musical high jacking, I can’t say that I miss these “cultural” discussions either.


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