Elevator music, also known as Muzak piped or lift music, is a familiar sound in our daily life. Despite its ubiquitous presence, the birth, evolution, and art of creating this genre have yet to be widely known. This blog post intends to journey through these topics, offering an intriguing insight into the world of elevator music.

What is Elevator Music?

Elevator music refers to the soothing, instrumental tunes that often accompany us during our brief journeys in elevators. It is soft, gentle background music intended to fill the silence and provide a distraction from the confined environment of the elevator. The genre is characterized by its hidden nature; it’s there, but it doesn’t demand your attention.

Beyond elevators, this music has found its place in various commercial and public spaces like shopping malls, airports, and restaurants, creating an ambient sound environment.

The Emergence of Elevator Music

The inception of elevator music dates back to the 1920s and 30s with the creation of Muzak, a brand name that soon became synonymous with background music. The original purpose of Muzak was not to entertain but to make workers more productive by providing a constant stream of music that could minimize workplace distractions and reduce stress.

The introduction of Muzak into elevators came later, around the 1940s. This move was initially intended to soothe passengers’ nerves uncomfortable with the new sensation of riding in elevators and subsequently mask the awkwardness that people often feel in the confined, close-quarters scenario of an elevator ride.

Creating Elevator Music: A Gentle Guide

Creating elevator music is an exercise in achieving balance. The composition should be engaging enough to fill the silence but not so overwhelming that it becomes distracting. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your elevator music:

  1. Choose the suitable instruments: Elevator music is often instrumental, commonly used instruments being piano, saxophone, strings, and occasionally light percussion. The chosen instruments should produce a calming and soothing sound.
  2. Compose a simple melody: The melody line should be straightforward and repetitive. Remember, the goal is to create an unobtrusive backdrop of sound, not a complex symphony.
  3. Maintain a consistent tempo: Elevator music typically has a slow to moderate tempo, creating a sense of calmness and predictability.
  4. Keep dynamics even: Avoid sudden changes in dynamics. The volume level should remain consistent throughout the piece.
  5. Use a pleasant key: Elevator music often uses major keys, perceived as happier and more soothing than minor keys.
  6. Make it loopable: Since elevator music often plays on a continuous loop, ensure your piece smoothly transitions from the end back to the beginning.

Elevator music, though often overlooked or even subtly scorned, holds an intriguing spot in music’s history and our everyday experiences. Its creation is a unique craft, balancing the line between being present and fading into the background. Whether you’re a fan of its soothing presence or a critic of its often monotonous tune, there’s no denying the impact and utility of this remarkable genre.

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