Elevator Music: A History of the Soothing Sounds in Lifts Featured Image

Elevator Music: A History of the Soothing Sounds in Lifts


Elevators have become an integral part of our daily lives, whether we’re rushing to our offices, exploring a towering skyscraper, or simply moving between floors at a mall. But have you ever noticed the soft, background music that plays as you ride in an elevator? That’s elevator music, and it has a fascinating history. Join us as we take a journey through the evolution of these soothing sounds in lifts.

The Birth of Elevator Music

Elevator music, often referred to as “muzak,” was born out of a desire to enhance the elevator experience. In the early 20th century, elevator rides were often accompanied by silence or the awkward shuffling of passengers. Engineers and business owners sought to make this experience more pleasant, leading to the birth of elevator music.

The 1920s – A Musical Revolution

The 1920s marked a significant turning point in elevator music history. The introduction of commercial radio led to the widespread availability of music, and elevators soon adopted this trend. Radio receivers were installed in elevators, providing passengers with a variety of tunes to enjoy during their short rides.

The Muzak Corporation

In 1934, George Owen Squier, an American general, and inventor, founded the Muzak Corporation. This company specialized in providing background music for various businesses, including elevators. Muzak aimed to create an atmosphere of calm and relaxation for passengers, making elevator rides more enjoyable.

The Soundscapes of the 1950s

The 1950s witnessed a shift in elevator music. As popular music evolved, so did the tunes played in elevators. Jazz, easy listening, and instrumental music became common choices. The goal remained the same: to provide a soothing and pleasant experience for elevator passengers.

Modern Elevator Music

In today’s world, elevator music has evolved to encompass a wide range of musical genres. You might hear classical compositions, contemporary pop hits, or even customized playlists chosen by building managers. The variety is endless, but the intention remains consistent – to create a calming and unobtrusive atmosphere.

The Impact on Our Psyche

Elevator music isn’t just background noise; it has a psychological impact on passengers. Research suggests that well-chosen elevator music can reduce stress and anxiety, making elevator rides a more pleasant experience. It can also affect our perception of time, making waiting for the elevator feel shorter.