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Easy listening: Wikis


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Easy listening is a style of popular music and radio format that emerged in the mid-20th century, evolving out of swing and big band music, and related to Beautiful music and Light music. Easy listening music features simple, catchy melodies, soft, laid-back songs and occasionally rhythms suitable for couples dancing. The genre includes both instrumental forms (often played on light of tone instruments such as the Hammond Organ, violin or ukulele); and vocal forms featuring pop singers and some exotica artists. Easy listening is similar to what is called lounge music, but lounge is more jazz-oriented and dependent on musical improvisation than easy listening. Easy listening music is usually orchestrated by an arranger rather than improvised by a small ensemble.

Easy listening music is also sometimes referred to as mood music or elevator music (lift music in the UK). The term muzak is occasionally used as a (usually derogatory) synonym for easy listening music as well, but that is erroneous as Muzak specifically refers to the music produced and programmed for public places by the Muzak Corporation, and is not a music genre in itself. The term easy listening is often incorrectly applied to other genres such as soft rock, smooth jazz, ambient music or new age music. This is because the definition is relatively broad.

The magazines Billboard and Record World featured easy listening singles in independently-audited record charts. Generally 40 positions in length, they charted airplay on stations such as WNEW, New York City and KMPC, Los Angeles. Record World began their listings 1/29/67 and ended these charts in the early 1970s. Billboard's easy listening chart morphed into the adult contemporary chart in 1979, and continues to this day. Beautiful music is a subset of easy listening music, since, as a radio format, it had rigid standards for instrumentation (e.g., few or no saxophones) and restrictions on how many vocal pieces could be played in an hour. It is sometimes called Nostalgia music. Often, songs were re-arranged instrumental cover versions of popular songs of the 1960s and 1970s custom-produced for the radio format during its peak in popularity. The easy listening radio format has been generally but not completely superseded by the soft adult contemporary format.[1]


Notable artists

See also


Further reading

  • Lanza, Joseph. (1994). Elevator Music: a Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong. New York: St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-10540-1.

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