Awesome Symphony of Office Sounds

By Beth Dreher

I once worked with a woman whose fingernails were so long (not quite like Flo-Jo, but close) that the clicking of her nails on the keyboard as she typed echoed around the office. The ferocity of her finger strokes was made more obvious by the near silence that surrounded us. My point: most offices these days aren’t the buzzing hives they used to be.

As Alex Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, observes, “The modern machine aims to be silent. The MacBook Air, eschewing the noisy optical and hard drives of yore, is a perfect example: It whispers through nearly all work.”

In the 1960s, though, mechanical office noises created a near symphony. As Madrigal reports, Swiss composer Rolf Liebermann created a short song for 156 machines, including 16 typewriters, 18 calculator machines, eight accounting machines, 12 office perforators, two metronomes, two entrance door gongs,  16 telephones, one fork lift, and many others in honor of his country’s National Exposition in 1964. Give his percussive creation a listen. Just be sure to use your headphones—you wouldn’t want to disturb your co-workers.

Photo credit: Colorcubic

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