Tuneful sirens, please

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The Independent Online
MUST AMBULANCES shriek? Do police cars really have to wail? No, says the violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin. They should make harmonious sounds, pleasing to the musical ear.

He recommends "alternating thirds" - a more consonant and harmonious sound in classical music - as used by ambulances in France.

Lord Menuhin will make his plea for unmusical police sirens to be banned later this month in the magazine of Index on Censorship, of which he is a patron. In the article he will also renew a call he made 16 years ago for muzak to be banned.

Ironically, the magazine Smash Hits will be devoted to highlighting examples of banned music around the world. But Lord Menuhin makes it clear that there are certain categories he wishes to see added to the proscribed list.

He will say: "The sirens of the emergency services need not be such rounds of terror and panic; they could be the alternating thirds used in Paris. The sound is used to warn us to clear the path for the ambulance or the fire engine, but it need not convey the emotive state of anguish of those directly involved in the heart attack or the fire.

"Even the paramedics in the ambulance are supposed to be cool, precise and efficient. How can that be when they are assaulted by blood-curdling noise?"