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  • Writer's picturejanaejean

Music for Waiting Rooms

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

How About A Little "Muzak" While We Wait?

This piece was created for the Cities and Memory – Until We Travel. This project was meant to capture the zeitgeist during the Covid-!9 Pandemic and the creators' thoughts around travel—and connection—at this unprecedented time. "Until We Travel is the biggest ever showcase of the sounds of travel from all over the world. From the roar of aircraft engines to the hubbub of a busy railway station, the project functions as both a record of how much the sounds of our world have changed in the past 12 months, and a celebration of a potential return to a world in which we’re able to travel to new places and visit and connect with loved ones once again." –Stuart Fowkes, Project Curator

For this project, I selected a recording of the aural ambience of a train station at Charles de Gaulle Airport. This sound immediately brought me right into the sticky vinyl seats or unfriendly wooden benches of any transport waiting area anywhere on Earth. I had a sense of sentimentality and familiarity with the process of travel, recognizing that even the waiting or stationary times are part of the journey. Even though most of us are not traveling and have not been for more than one year, we are currently in the middle of a journey. We don't need to take off on a plane or hop on a train, we are on the journey right now. There's a beauty in each step.

Musically, I was originally planning on making an ambient sound collage with analog synthesizers, effects, and the train station ambience recording. I created synth patches that float and morph like clouds and others that buzz like engines. I chose the home tonality of B flat with a lot of suspended ninths because it feels like it's about to "take off" or "land".

As I worked on it, I moved away from an ambience-only approach and started playing the 70s-ish piano ballad riff and topped it off with a "flutey," swung lead that feels a bit like "elevator music" or "MUZAK." This music feels at home in the waiting room.

For the accompanying video, I searched for stock footage that implied the feeling of waiting and that showed that all of life—from before birth until our last years, months, and years—we are in a waiting room. We are always wondering, "What's next? What's around the next bend?" Instead of focusing on being in the present and enjoying the beauty of the moment. After all, the in-between moments are what make up life.

I finished this piece back in April, but it ended up on a back burner—in it's own waiting room limbo. I am beginning a new piece for a future Cities and Memory Project and decided I should finish this one up and say it's down no matter how I feel about it. (Since I turned it in I wondered if I went a little too far towards MUZAK.) I went ahead and found the video footage and put together a collage in iMovie and decided to declare it a finished project. After all, the Until We Travel project was released back on May 3, 2021, and it's now September!

Video Footage Credits:



Video by Ivan Samkov from Pexels


Video by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels


Video by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Man on Phone

Video by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Train Station

Video by cottonbro from Pexels

Solitary Man

Video by cottonbro from Pexels


Video by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Woman with Book

Video by Liliana Drew from Pexels


Video by Ekrulila from Pexels

Rainbow Man

Video by cottonbro from Pexels

Empty Hall

Video by Ron Lach from Pexels

Old Man

Video by cottonbro from Pexels

Stay Home


Video by cottonbro from Pexels

"Music for Waiting Rooms" ©2021 Janae Jean (ASAP)

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Mar 30, 2023

ty for post

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