What we’re talking about here is background music, those forgettable tunes you hear while you’re sitting on hold or shopping for groceries – bland, empty instrumentals meant to make your experience more enjoyable without you realizing it. It’s music that’s not meant to be heard, say, the same way you listen to U2, Toby Keith or Metallica. Instead, it’s music that’s intended to calm the mind and spirit while you’re doing something else.
Now researchers at Spain’s University of Granada have come up with a computer program capable of creating such music. Called “Inmamusys,” it’s software that allows people without any music experience to create compositions equal to the finest elevator songs anywhere.
According to the lead researcher, Inmamusys, which is an acronym for Intelligent Multiagent Music System, is designed to create a “pleasant, non-repetitive musical environment for anyone who has to be within earshot throughout the day,” reports ScienceDaily.
Apparently all users need to do is identify the kind of music desired and Inmamusys does the rest, enabling folks without a single musical bone in their bodies to create background tunes good enough to, well, play in the background.
What’s more, music created with the Inmamusys software is copyright-free, thus removing the expense of tracking royalties for music no one really wants to listen to anyway.
Sure, it sounds almost ridiculous, but not only is background music big business, but a tough one as well. Stores want music comforting customers, but doesn’t numb them so much they forget what they’re shopping for. Furthermore, places like hospitals, airports and hotel lobbies rely on background music to drown out more annoying noises like tire screeches, sirens, low-flying aircraft and Kanye West talking about himself that can ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Yes, the business of providing background music has changed dramatically (yet quietly) ever since the 1920s when Major General George O. Squier came up with a method to transmit signals over electrical lines – a system that Squier would eventually call Muzak.
But even Muzak has changed over the years. The company that’s synonymous with background music hasn’t made any of its own in 25 years. Instead, Muzak consults other companies about background music needs, and works hard to shake the long-time image most folks associate with the company.
“Every day,” Muzak’s Shawn Moseley told NPR’s All Things Considered, “You have to have a conversation with somebody and say, ‘We’re not elevator music. We’re not your father’s Muzak.’”
Click here for the complete ScienceDaily article about Inmamusys.
Click here for the NPR / All Things Considered article about Muzak.