Elevator music

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Elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, weather music, or lift music) refers to a type of popular music, usually instrumental, that is commonly played through speakers in elevators, shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores, telephone systems (while the caller is on hold), cruise ships, airliners (during flight after taking off), hotels, airports, business offices, restaurants, bars, hospitals, as well as electronic program guides, weather forecasts, television testcards, and some arcade game venues. 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.[citation needed] Elevator music may also be preferred over broadcast radio stations because of the lack of lyrics and commercial interruptions.[citation needed]

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.[1] Since 1997, Muzak has used original artists for its music source,[2] except on the Environmental channel.[3]

Notable musicians[edit]

Various songs of popular instrumental musicians are sometimes also used as an elevator music in most public places today.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dunning, Brian. "The Science of Muzak.". Skeptoid Podcast, 9 Jul 2013. Skeptoid Media, Inc. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Annals of Culture: The Soundtrack of Your Life", The New Yorker by David Owen (04/10/2006).
  3. ^ "Encompass LE Program Listing" (PDF). Muzak Corporation. November 10, 2006. Retrieved April 19, 2007.  (PDF)

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