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Elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, weather music, or lift music) refers to a type of popular music, often instrumental, that is commonly played through speakers in shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores, telephone systems (while the caller is on hold), cruise ships, airliners (during take-off and flight), hotels, airports, business offices, hospitals, and elevators, as well as electronic program guides, weather forecasts and test cards. 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.
Elevator music is typically set to a very simple melody so that it can be unobtrusively looped back to the beginning. The dynamic range is also normally reduced, so that the highs and lows do not distract listeners. 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 SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, The Blues Brothers, Dawn of the Dead, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-Man 2, and Night at the Museum). Some video games have used elevator music for comedic effect, e.g. Metal Gear Solid 4 where a few elevator music-themed tracks are accessible on the in-game iPod, as well as Rise of the Triad: Dark War, which occasionally plays elevator music when in elevators during stages.
Muzak was a major supplier of business background music, and was the best known such supplier for years. Ironically, while its name is commonly associated with elevator music in the public mind, that was never one of the company's offerings. Since 1997, Muzak has used original artists for its music source, except on the Environmental channel.
- Background music
- Beautiful music
- Furniture music
- Kenny G
- Light music
- Lounge music
- Richard Clayderman, widely known for piano-based elevator music
- Roland Sound Canvas, one of the popular MIDI sound modules used to generate MIDI-based instrumental elevator music tracks.
- Space music
- Seeburg 1000 Background Music System
- "Careless Whisper"
- "The Girl from Ipanema", the most famous elevator music
- Dunning, Brian. "The Science of Muzak.". Skeptoid Podcast, 9 Jul 2013. Skeptoid Media, Inc. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- "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)
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- Muzak Article about elevator music
- The Soundtrack of Your Life New Yorker Article
- Music, Muzak, Noise, Silence and Thought