Background music, often referred to as elevator music (for the common practice of playing this genre in elevators) or Muzak (a trademarked name of a company famous for supplying this music), refers to various styles of music or soundscapes primarily intended to be passively listened to. It is not meant to be the main focus of an audience, but rather to supplement that which is meant to be focused upon. Music that is played at a low volume and is not the main focus of an audience is also referred to as background music. Traditional examples of background music include music played at various social gatherings and music played in certain retail venues
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- I object to background music no matter how good it is. Composers want people to listen to their music, they don't want them doing something else while their music is on. I'd like to get the guy who sold all those big businessmen the idea of putting music in the elevators, for he was really clever. What on earth good does it do anybody to hear those four or eight bars while going up a few flights.
Background music has taken a step forward from its roots and is now used as part of a complete branding exercise in consumer environments. Sound branding uses background music to evoke moods within consumers to enable brands to connect emotionally with their customers. I wrote an introductory article here: http://www.melodypods.com/music-branding/sound-branding-background-foreground-music.html