History of the background music

The history of background music.

The concept of "background" music has its roots in the French composer Erik Satie, who in the second decade of the 20th century formulated the concept of "furniture music" and implemented it in his piece "Musique d'ameublement". According to Satie, this music should be perceived by listeners exclusively as "part of the surrounding environment", rather than as a piece of music in its own right. Thus, Erik Satie can be rightfully considered the "precursor" and originator of the direction that we now define as "background music".

In the 1930s, the company "Muzak" (whose name is an allusion to Kodak) became a pioneer in the commercial use of "pre-recorded" background music for business purposes. Thanks to Muzak, a niche was formed whose main goal was to provide musical works and recordings for the soundscapes of various business spaces: hotels, restaurants, private clubs, and more. Background music became an ideal solution for distracting attention and creating a soothing atmosphere for passengers in American skyscraper elevators, such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. Eventually, the term "elevator music" even became popular among Americans, used to describe genres such as jazz, swing, bossa-nova, and others.

Research conducted in the 1940s revealed the "physiological" influence of music on human behavior. Based on this research, Muzak presented and implemented the concept of "stimulating progression", the idea of which was to regularly alternate two 15-minute blocks. One of these blocks created a certain emotional "buildup" by gradually increasing the dynamics from calm tracks at the beginning of the block to maximum dynamics and intensity by the end of the block, thereby increasing the productivity of production and office workers. The other block, in turn, was completely calm and quiet, aimed at rest and relaxation. Factories and offices where playlists were compiled according to the "stimulating progression" method reported a noticeable increase in productivity.

When compiling playlists, Muzak specialists typically started with the assumption that employees come to work in a good mood at the beginning of the day. Therefore, the playlist should begin with the most peaceful tracks. As fatigue and tension increase throughout the day, the music's dynamics and intensity should also increase, making it easier to work and concentrate. In addition to the "stimulating progression" method, Muzak also developed other methods of compiling background music, such as matching the tempo of the music to the rhythm of the human heartbeat.

When it comes to using music in commercial settings, background music has proven to be an effective tool for businesses to increase sales and create a better shopping experience for customers. Background music can set the tone for the store and create a welcoming environment that encourages shoppers to stay longer and explore more products.

However, not all background music is created equal. Choosing the right type of commercial music is crucial for creating the desired effect on customers. The music should match the brand image and target audience of the store, and the tempo should be appropriate for the products being sold. For example, a retail store selling high-end luxury products may benefit from slow, classical music, while a sports equipment store might benefit from fast-paced, upbeat music.

Additionally, it's important to make sure that the music is played at the appropriate volume. If the music is too loud, it can be overwhelming for customers and discourage them from staying in the store. On the other hand, if the music is too quiet, it may not be noticed at all, defeating the purpose of playing background music in the first place.

Overall, using background music in retail settings can be a powerful tool for increasing sales and creating a better shopping experience for customers. By choosing the right type of commercial music and playing it at the appropriate volume, businesses can create an inviting atmosphere that encourages customers to explore and purchase products.
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