Hold music is a replacement for silence that delivers one message, "Yes, you are still on hold." This is all it has to say, and in that sense, it only has to be noise. Yet on this shriveled cactus of purpose, baubles hang that delight anyway.
This is the lesson Ira Glass taught me in the latest episode of This American Life in which reporter Sara Corbett gloriously spins out the story of her father-in-law's obsession with Cisco's default hold music.
Yes, Cisco! The leading purveyor of fine corporate phone systems. And on these systems, there is hold music. It sounds like this:
You probably hate it. I mostly do. At three minutes, there is this horrifying funky Michael Bolton breakdown played on a xylophone synth.
In the stale elevator descending slowly into hades, this is what pours from the padded, yellow walls.
But some people love it!
And if you leave it on in the background while you're working, just sitting in a tab, and then you turn it off, you may notice a curious absence. Perhaps this tune is better than silence. If you can hear this song, you are still alive.
In any case, the most wonderful thing about this piece of music is that a Yanni-loving 16-year-old computer nerd composed it.