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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Interesting read on Muzak...


"Muzak is scientifically engineered sound - functional music rather than entertainment. It affects those who hear it but does not require a conscious listening effort. The Muzak corporation call themselves "specialists in the physiological and psychological effects and applications of music", and they draw on the historical use of frequency, as well as the research work of founder Dan O'Neill, to create a "programmed environment for applications in offices, factories, banks and shops". The key to Muzak's effectiveness is "Stimulus Progression"; a system which provides people with a psychological "lift" - a subconscious sense of forward movement achieved through programming sound in fifteen minute blocks. Within each of these segments, tunes are ordered from least to most stimulating. The stimulus value of each segment is determined by factors such as tempo, rhythm, instrumentation and orchestra size. The final, brightest tune is always followed by fifteen minutes of silence, so that most employees for instance will only hear Muzak for half the time that they are working. This not only relates to attention curves, but also prevents the sound becoming the kind of imposition which could be distracting."
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