On the way home from work today, I was listening to NPR and heard a segment about how office machines today are nearly silent and that a piece written for Expo 1964 by the Swiss composer Rolf Liebermann would be nearly impossible to conceive of now. His piece was scored for 156 office machines: 16 typewriters, 18 calculator machines, 8 accounting machines, 12 office perforators, 10 cash registers, 8 humidifiers-gluers (not sure what these are), 8 tele-writers, 2 metronomes, 4 signaling bells, 2 entrance door gongs, 10 horns, 16 telephones, 40 experimental signal receptors, 1 fork lift, and a duplicator. This Symphonie Les Echanges is above.
It’s true that my laptop is pretty quiet and my cell phone is usually on vibrate, though printers and electric pencil sharpeners can be pretty loud. But it is also true that the era of loud industrial-type office machines is an archaic notion of the past. The information age has ushered in a nearly silent workplace. It’s a good thing there are still plenty of humans and gossip to break the stillness.