Elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, weather music or lift music) refers to instrumental arrangements of popular music designed for playing in shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores, telephone systems (while the caller is on hold), cruise ships, airports, business offices, and elevators. The term is also frequently applied as a generic term for any form of easy listening, smooth jazz, or middle of the road music, or to the type of recordings commonly heard on "beautiful music" radio stations.
The Muzak Holdings Corporation is a major supplier of business background music, and was the best known such supplier for years. Since 1997 Muzak has used original artists for its music source, except on the Environmental channel.
Elevator music is typically set to a very simple melody, so that it can be unobtrusively looped back to the beginning. In a mall or shopping center, elevator music of a specific type has been found to have a psychological effect: slower, more relaxed music tends to make people slow down and browse longer. Elevator music may also be preferred over broadcast radio stations due to the lack of lyrics and commercial interruptions.
This style of music is sometimes used to comedic effect in mass media such as film, where intense or dramatic scenes may be interrupted or interspersed with such anodyne music while characters use an elevator (e.g. The Blues Brothers, Dawn of the Dead, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra and Spider-Man 2).
Also, it is interesting to note that there are various video game titles that utilize elevator music to add comedic effects into the game. One notable example is in Metal Gear Solid 4 where a few elevator music themed tracks are accessible on the in-game iPod. Two of the tracks are named "Sea Breeze" and "Sailor". In the video game GoldenEye 007, calm elevator music plays as the main characters ride an elevator up to the main control center for the GoldenEye satellite. Upon exiting the elevator, the music changes to reflect the fact that several guards and sentry turrets must immediately be gunned down. The game hub in Lego Star Wars III features several elevators which play an easy-listening version of Darth Vader's theme.
See also 
- Ambient music
- Background music
- Beautiful music
- Furniture music
- Light music
- Muzak Holdings
- Space music
- Seeburg 1000 Background Music System
- "The Girl from Ipanema"
- "Annals of Culture: The Soundtrack of Your Life", The New Yorker by David Owen (04/10/2006).
- "Encompass LE Program Listing" (PDF). Muzak Corporation. November 10 2006. Retrieved April 19, 2007. (PDF)
- "Game Review, Lego Star Wars III". Rocknrollrocksout. April 11 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Elevator music|
- Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, by Joseph Lanza
- Complain About Elevator Music A comprehensive site about elevator music
- The King has Just Left the Building: an art project related to elevator music
- Muzak Article about elevator music
- The Soundtrack of Your Life New Yorker Article
- Music, Muzak, Noise, Silence and Thought