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 the Boston Pops Orchestra made in New York City for Decca Records.[2] Anderson composed the 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, while using three basic typewriter sounds: the sound of typing, the "ring" of the carriage return indicating an approaching end-of-line (a standard desk bell is used for it), and the sound of the typewriter’s carriage returning. In some cases the sound of the typewriter’s carriage returning is made by a 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 the composer himself, as well as other musicians, the typewriter part is difficult because of how fast the typing speed is: even professional stenographers cannot 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]

The typewriter is considered a percussion instrument,[8] and the typewriter part is usually performed by a percussionist or drummer, or rarely by the conductor.[9][5]

In popular culture[edit]

The piece was featured in the Jerry Lewis film Who's Minding the Store (1963)[citation needed] and in the musical montage that opens Lewis' 1980 film Hardly Working,[citation needed] although his first recorded performance was on a January 1954 episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour.[citation needed] The Radio 4 satirical programme The News Quiz has adopted the tune as its theme song (though, oddly, in an arrangement not featuring a typewriter).[citation needed]


  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 27, 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]