When I became Shabbat observant, the lack of background music/sound was what struck me the most. I lived alone, and life became silent for 25 hours a week. I went into sound withdrawal. In the beginning, I left the radio on a timer so that I could wean myself more slowly. To be honest, I don't see why leaving music or a TV on is any different than putting a lamp or crockpot on a timer. I see that it's not Shabbosdich (in the spirit of Shabbos), but is it actually prohibited halachically? People tell me that it is. Some say it's not technically, but it's just not done. (Unless there is a seriously major sports game on Friday night.)
It seems like everyone has a different way of observing this no-music custom during Sefira, the Three Weeks, and the Nine Days. Assuming they've even accepted the custom for one, two, or all of those time periods, just about everyone rules out concerts. However, maybe a cappella concerts and CDs are fine. (The Maccabeats try to catch that crowd.) For the amateur musician, maybe it means not practicing, going to a class, or listening to others. Some also don't listen to recorded music. (Halachically, things can be different when recorded, but that is a very complicated discussion for another day.)
This gets more complicated when you're not in control of the music. Some don't go to the movies (which could also be avoiding celebrations, enjoyment, etc). Some avoid places where music is played. In most of the world, that seems nearly impossible. I'm sure some people stop watching TV because of the possibility of commercial jingles and intro music, but I don't think I know those people. I do know many who don't go to movies, and frankly, I don't see the distinction, unless it's the other people and a more "festive" atmosphere.
Supposedly this is about mourning. Mourners don't listen to music for various time periods, depending on custom. I get that, at least for a time. When my friend passed away, I wrote on here about how cheap and meaningless music seemed. But after a couple of weeks, I needed it again, cheap or not. I looked at music differently, but I knew that it still fulfilled something I need.
This year, the lack of music really got to me. In prior years, I was working. I had things to distract me, people to see. This year, I'm unemployed and spending many hours job-hunting at my computer in addition to my normal hours at the computer. Maybe I would feel differently if I had a roommate, were married, had children, or otherwise had long time periods of human interaction. I don't. So maybe the music is a stand-in for communication and the human connection. I don't know. I do know that I'm calling my dad three and four times a day. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to mind.
My world became very silent very quickly. And I didn't like it. Worse, my subconscious rebelled. Any comment that my subconscious could connect to a song, no matter how tenuously, immediately went on repeat in my head. Usually, I only know one or two lines without the actual song to guide me.
Day 1, Song #1: "Puff the Magic Dragon." I woke up, and there was the song. A full day of only knowing one line of that song is enough to send you to a mental institution. Also guilty: "When I think about you, I touch myself" and "Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain."
In short, an internal living hell.
And on that note, Shabbat shalom?