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Elevator Music

The Industrial Music that surrounds us is bellful, horny, and white with noise. Dings and blares come from every clock and car, the electric B-flat hums from every outlet, and the streets are seldom silent. If one were to form a SimsBand, covering the music of each day, it would have plenty of brass and bells, and the rainbow of noise would rise in a high drowning arc across the sky. We’d bring all the bellboys back of course. Clear the bats from the bellfry. Make way for the old timey elevator operators to return to their lifts, and once again man those tiny tintinabulations by hand.

Behold the Elevator Bell Ding! How many times have you heard this little tone in your life? Just take the amount of times you rode a lift, and multiply by two, because this bell dings up and down, open and closed—twice in one ride. It only takes two notes to make a melody after all.

Unlike the door bell, which covers the interval of a Major Third, the Elevator Ding is monotonal, right on the edge between noise and tone. (Click on the the wave to the right for frequency analysis.) The most dominant tone seems to be an F, but the spectrum is very messy. There are strong spikes in the G# range, as well as an E. Most importantly, there is a very high piercing C#, as well as a lower one, that make a musical tone out of an otherwise noisy sound.

Add up the dominant tones in this messy noisy wave, and you get a C# Minor chord. Try dragging over the chord below, quickly scroll back up, and ding the elevator bell to see how close they are (The elevator bell is actually a quarter tone less than a C#).

Who knew elevator music was so sad?

2 Comments

  1. harryplatz says:

    Elevators ding once if they’re going up, twice if they’re going down (or the other way around maybe) so you should hear at least three dings for each round trip

    • Los Doggies says:

      Thank you for further elaborating good sir. You wouldn’t happen to be an elevator operator would you?