The Typewriter

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"The Typewriter"
Composition by Leroy Anderson and His "Pops" Concert Orchestra
WrittenOctober 9, 1950
ReleasedOctober, 1953
RecordedSeptember 8, 1953
GenreLight music
LabelDecca Records
Composer(s)Leroy Anderson

"The Typewriter" is a short composition of light music by American composer Leroy Anderson, which features an actual typewriter as a percussion instrument.


Anderson completed "The Typewriter" on October 9, 1950 in Woodbury, Connecticut.[1] "The Typewriter" received its first performance on September 8, 1953 during a recording Anderson and Boston Pops Orchestra made in New York City for Decca Records.[2] Anderson composed melody for symphony and pops orchestras, William Zinn and Floyd Werle arranged it for string orchestras and wind bands respectively.[3]

Bell structure

Its name refers to the fact that its performance requires a typewriter. Performer uses 3 basic typewriter sounds: the sound of typing, the "ring" of the carriage return (a standard desk bell is used for it), and the sound of the typewriter carriage returning. In some case the sound of the typewriter carriage returning is made by musical gourd[4], flute, string or other instrument.

The typewriter was modified so that only two keys work to prevent the keys from jamming. According to composer himself and other musicians typewriter part is hard because of typing speed: even professional stenographers can not do it, and only professional drummers have the necessary wrist flexibility.[5]

It has been called one of "the wittiest and most clever pieces in the orchestral repertoire".[6] Author Steve Metcalf has written that "Despite the almost total disappearance of typewriters in everyday life, the statistics show that "The Typewriter" is still a favorite Anderson item."[7]

Typewriter is used in composition as percussion instrument from the standpoint of music theory[8], and typewriter part is performed by percussionist/drummer usually or by conductor[9] rarely.[5]

Cultural references[edit]

The piece was featured in the Jerry Lewis film Who's Minding the Store (1963), although his first recorded performance was on a January 1954 episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour. The Radio 4 satirical programme The News Quiz has adopted the tune as its theme song. The original MS-DOS version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! played a portion of the piece on startup. For several decades the tune was also the opening theme for Israel Radio's weekly news journal, which is broadcast on its "Network B" ("Reshet Bet") every Saturday morning. It was also featured as a title theme for the German comedy TV series Büro, Büro, and in Adam Elliot's 2009 Australian film Mary and Max. It was integrated into the Animaniacs cartoon segment "Temporary Insanity" (Season 1, episode 6, 1993), mimed by Yakko Warner as being typed on a nonexistent typewriter. The piece also appears in the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 1, episode 4).

The variant of Russian name for composition "Соло на пишущей машинке" (Solo na pishushchey mashinke, Solo on typewriter) is used for same-named self-help touch typewriting manual by Vladimir Shakhidzhanyan (1991) and later for his touch keyboarding computer trainer "Соло на клавиатуре" (Solo na klaviature, Solo on keyboard) and for notebooks "Соло на ундервуде" (Solo na undervude, Solo on underwood, 1980) and "Соло на IBM" (Solo na IBM, Solo on IBM, 1990) by Sergei Dovlatov.


  1. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Chapter 2 – "Works", Pages 25–81.
  2. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Appendix H – "Recording Sessions and Musicians", page 411
  3. ^ Published Music // Leroy Anderson's official website
  4. ^ Evening at Pops with Leroy Anderson, transcript of episode of Evening at Pops broadcast in May 1972, at PBS, retrieved June 23 2012
  5. ^ a b Leroy Anderson: Master of the Miniature, at National Public Radio, by Pat Dowell, published June 29, 2008, retrieved June 23, 2012
  6. ^ "Compact Discoveries: #13, Leroy Anderson", by Fred Flaxman, broadcast 2005, transcript posted 2009, retrieved June 23 2012
  7. ^ "Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography", Praeger 2004, Chapter 1 – "Biography", Page 15
  8. ^ Thomas D Rossing, Science of Percussion Instruments // World Scientific Pub Co Inc, 2000
  9. ^ New Year with Vladimir Spivakov // Russia-K, December 31, 2012

External links[edit]