Definitions

elevator-music

Elevator music

Elevator music (piped music, muzak, or lift music in the Commonwealth) refers to the gentle instrumental arrangements of popular music designed for playing in shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores, public toilets, telephone systems (while the caller is on hold), cruise ships, airports, on television shows, doctors' and dentists' offices, and elevators. The term is also frequently applied as a generic (and often derogatory) term for any form of Easy Listening, smooth jazz, or Middle of the road music, or to the type of recordings once commonly heard on "beautiful music" radio stations.

The Muzak corporation is the best-known supplier of such music. In fact, the term muzak has become a generic epithet for excessively bland music. Muzak, however, moved away from this type of music, for the most part, in 1997 and now uses only "original artists" for its music source, except on the Environmental channel.

Elevator music as a repellent

During the last ten years another use of elevator music has emerged, not with the aim of relaxation and pleasure, but to make loitering less attractive for those people who dislike the music (allegedly drug addicts, prostitutes, and other less desirable elements of society). For this purpose serious classical music (e.g. opera, marches or sonatas) is used and played louder than usual. One of the first places it was tested was in Amsterdam.

Since November 2002, loud classical music has also been played at the Central Station of Copenhagen in some elevators and at the entrance towards the city's red light district where the drug trade used to be a problem, sometimes so much that the drug dealers and their clients blocked the normal flow of people in and out of the station. The music is played from hidden loudspeakers and there is nowhere to 'hide' from the music. As a consequence, the drug dealers have left the entrance, but can still be seen in the street outside. An article from May 2004 in a Danish journal of drug abuse reported that many of the targeted drug addicts felt annoyed and saddened by the music, because it is a constant symbol that they are unwanted. This applied even to those who actually liked classical music. Some of the drug addicts, however, said they understood very well why the Danish State Railways wanted to keep them off the premises.

Of similar use, but only audible to the very target group itself, is the 'teenage repellent' electronic mosquito sound.

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