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Elevator Music Paperback – January 1, 1995


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Paperback, January 1, 1995
$20.38 $6.84
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704302268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704302266
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,496,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this entertaining book, Lanza ( Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy, and Misadventures of Nicolas Roeg ) treats background music as a serious art form, tracing its evolution and arguing that there is more to the world of engineered sound than Muzak (whose inventor he calls the "unsung hero of the electronic age") and other types of canned music. Lanza places movie soundtracks, mood music, space-age music and "lite" radio all in the realm of indirect listening, along with numerous popular performers from Lawrence Welk and Ray Conniff to the Swingle Singers and the Norman Luboff Choir. Many contemporary composers work in this sphere, maintains the author, who also includes 18th-century composers such as Vivaldi, Telemann and Boccherini, because he considers their music "feathery." Lanza covers his subject in such an engaging manner that one could almost be lulled into accepting his analysis that "Muzak and mood music are, in many respects, aesthetically superior to all other musical forms" because "they emit music the way the twentieth century is equipped to receive it." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Lanza's book takes "Dentist chair music" lightly, claiming for it a history extending back to Orpheus, who "used" music for his own purposes. Music was first used in elevators in 1922, Lanza claims, to sooth passengers fearful of the new machines. Background music is now a pervasive element of modern technological culture. Lanza thinks background music is often good music. As an underappreciated necessity, it makes our world more pleasant and agreeable. While no deeper than "101 Strings" or "Mystic Moods Orchestra" fare, Lanza's book may make readers feel better about the amalgamation of tastes demanded by the fact that 90 million people listen to Muzak daily. For large popular collections.
- Bonnie Jo Dopp, formerly with Dist . of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Joseph Lanza, who writes mostly about film and popular music, is perhaps best known for his pioneering and critically acclaimed book ELEVATOR MUSIC: A SURREAL HISTORY OF MUZAK, EASY-LISTENING, AND OTHER MOODSONG. "Snobby musicologists ignore this fascinating topic," composer Wendy Carlos said, "but I learned a lot while being well entertained by Lanza's delightful book." He later savored the mystical delights of vanilla milkshakes and the dulcet pop songs they connote with VANILLA POP: SWEET SOUNDS FROM FRANKIE AVALON TO ABBA. Blender, an indie-rock magazine, noted that Lanza writes about such recording artists as The Lettermen, Claudine Longet, and The Carpenters with "contagious enthusiasm." His latest book is the biographical thriller PHALLIC FRENZY: KEN RUSSELL AND HIS FILMS. Ken Russell himself lauded it in the London Times, observing that "Lanza has managed to disguise his masterful research as a near-neo novel with gothic and surreal overtones. I applaud the man, having done the same with my own biographies on composers."

Recently, Mr. Lanza told the following to Contemporary Authors: "On the surface, my subjects might seem quite eclectic, but all of my books are about a secular search for a creative spirit, whether it be through sweet music, rollercoasters, or obsessive cinema."

Check out JOSEPH LANZA'S NERVE CENTER: http://josephlanza.blogspot.com/

Customer Reviews

I loved those beautiful music radio stations back in the 70s and 80s .
Robert E. Prinzen-wood
Too bad, there is a lot of wonderful history regarding light-orchestra music, but Lanza simply isn't the one to put it together.
W. W. Stillwagon Sr.
Maybe someone out there is capable of sustaining that argument; Lanza can't.
Jonathan Kranz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
Standing apart from the slagheap of so-called histories of "Lounge" music is Joseph Lanza's brilliant "Elevator Music."  Lanza has contributed an exhaustively-researched and riveting account of a genre of music too often dismissed by those deafened by the relentless rhythms of today's popular music.  Without resorting to the insipid and meaningless exploitation of kitsch nostalgia, the book makes a convincing argument that this music does indeed serve to "elevate" the spirits of its listeners.  Rather than being an inescapable aural assault, elevator music has the possibility of being considered as pleasurable foreground, if the listener so chooses, or benign background, as a subconscious presence.  One need only walk into Howard Johnson's from the bustle of Times Square to experience the oasis that elevator music creates within that space. Our society would no doubt be much better off if elevator music were more prevalent in its public spaces than the angst-ridden, self-conscious pop and rap that now dominate our daily soundscape.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Phil Stout on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lanza's exploration of elevator music, easy listening and all things moodsong is the definitive book for anyone who has an interest in a very misunderstood genre. As someone very close to the Easy Listening and Mood Music programming that quietly ruled FM radio for much of the 70's, let me tell you... Joseph Lanza nails his subject matter impressively. Whether you consider yourself a Percy Faith, Roger Williams or Mantovani fan... or are just curious about these plush, melodic sounds, "Elevator Music: A Surreal History Of Muzak, Easy Listening and Other Moodsong" makes for enjoyable reading. This isn't a book that seeks to cash in on what someone recently decided to call lounge music but an evenhanded evaluation of fascinating, mostly instrumental adult pop music with melodies that always lingered on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roy B. Quady on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author did a marvelous job researching the subject ofpoporchestra easy listening music. He covers in some detail all thegreats who made this style of music so popular during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. The welcome chapter on Beautiful Music stereo FM radio stations of the '70s should have included the name of Bob Chandler, who programmed WGAY Washington, D.C. Bob was the person most responsible for making 'GAY the best station of its kind in the U.S. and the #1-rated station in our Nation's Capital during much of the 1970s. Please note that Time-Life Music has issued a series of Instrumental Favorites featuring all the artists discussed by the author. ( ) Author Joesph Lanza has written the annotations to this series of exquisite recordings.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Karl Reinsch on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
A thorough and fascinating history of "elevator music" and "easy listening" music in general. Clearly points out that "ambient" music is just a new name slapped on an old idea. Very interesting facts regarding how music can affect the performance of workers, etc. Like all books of this sort, the inclusion of a sampler CD containing the some of the works discussed would be helpful. Sure, it would increase the price of the book. But it would make it a better book. When will the publishers catch on?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Niswander on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Where did that pleasant, non-intrusive music go? After reading this book, I now understand why I liked Christmas music so much. When going shopping, it used to seem like Christmas all year long. Music and health are related. I can think of no better work that explains this complex subject of Muzak and background music. It sets the record straight. And it does so with a bit of humor. It may take awhile to fully grasp the significance of this subject. But I can say it has been very meaningful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Prinzen-wood on October 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved those beautiful music radio stations back in the 70s and 80s . There was so much background information in this book about the makers of that wonderful music that we all grew up with.I had no idea about . It was interesting reading about the beginnings of MUZAc and the orchestras of that period.They really were very high quality.They were indeed quite artistic and always entertaining.I agree with the author that that type of music did not deserve the criticism it got. There was a lot of prejudice.The muzac today is really the problem as it does invade one's privacy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Joseph Lanza is "a writer who concentrates on 'speculative' nonfiction on topics including film, music, and other popular culture phenomena." He has also written Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films (Cappella Books), Vanilla Pop: Sweet Sounds from Frankie Avalon to ABBA, Gravity : Tilted Perspectives on Rocket Ships, Roller Coasters, Earthquakes, and Angel Food, The Cocktail: The Influence of Spirits on the American Psyche, etc.

He wrote in the first chapter of this 1994 book, "Part of our social therapy is to bathe and swim in that 'amniotic fluid,' not just to the sounds of Muzak but to all the moodsong soundtracks that embellish our lives but that many ungratefully ignore, deride, or take for granted. This book will have succeeded in its purpose if I can help efface (or at least make all the more confusing) the distinction between one person's elevator music and another's prized recording."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"For a more clinical definition: mood music shifts music from figure to ground, to encourage peripheral hearing. Psychoanalysts might say that it displaces our attention from music's manifest content to its more surreal latent content." (Pg. 3)
"Nonetheless, moments of Muzak synchronicity do occur ...
Read more ›
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