Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bad Hold Music, Part 2

Remember the other day when I called our local council office and then wrote about how terrible their hold music was? The Miami Vice electronic thump, the needless stopping and starting?

Well, I felt I really needed to share the experience.

Now, tell me that isn't abysmal hold music. But then, it's hard to tell, because we never hear the entire song. As you may have noticed, sometimes it goes just a few beats before starting over, and sometimes it gets all the way into a hint of melody. And then, boom. Restart.

My friend Kevin, who read my earlier post, clued me in to a recent segment on the NPR radio show "This American Life" about a man who became obsessed with learning the identity of the hold music he heard when he called his local hospital. The clip is here, and it's very interesting. It's the first 20 minutes or so of the show.

Kevin suspected that my council hold music might be the same as the music described in the radio segment, which -- as the default hold music for Cisco phone systems -- is apparently very widespread. Alas, although it is similarly synthesizer-heavy, it doesn't sound the same. Like the music in the segment, though, it probably is the default hold music for whatever company provides the council's phones, and it sounds like it also could have been written by a teenager in a garage.

Is there such a thing as good hold music? Well, I kind of like this variety, which for some reason makes me think of driving to a friend's house in Southern California for a champagne brunch with avocados. Or this one, which employs synthesizers to catchy effect.

Is this more than you ever wanted to know about hold music? Probably.

(Photo: Pink geraniums at an apartment building in St. John's Wood.)


  1. Are you sure the council office din is actually hold music and not the noise of contractors installing new external cladding?

  2. Alas, I think Yorkshire Pudding has nailed it...I sometimes get "hold" music at my credit union...fortunately, it doesn't sound like a late-night dance party...or Miami Vice.

  3. Oh god. That's horrible in every way. It's not music for one thing.
    Why, why, why, why, WHY?
    Obviously I haven't gone to the links. Is there an actual answer? Because that's torturous.

  4. pretty awful. I couldn't listen to the whole thing.

  5. Abysmal is the perfect word to describe most hold music. There must be some reason that such horrible music is used for a hold. If they keep us on hold for so long at least they could supply something pleasant and then i wouldn't be so grouchy when they answer.

  6. And why is hold music often so LOUD? Or is it just me? I resent being subjected to it while I'm being made to wait.

  7. Okay, no. Just no.

    And I agree with Jennifer about the hold music being loud. There have been times I've laid the phone on the counter while waiting because otherwise I'd have been deaf by the time someone came on the other end ...

    The flowers in pots in your photo are gorgeous! I always think my front step pots will look like that. In reality they are much smaller and not nearly as lush. I need to think BIG.

  8. Oh my goodness, I can see why that sound stuck in your mind. I think "abysmal" is the perfect description. I can't remember who it was but I do remember recently sitting on hold where the music kept starting over all the time. It's rather annoying. Those other versions you provided links to are much better.

  9. It's still better than this which for a while seemed to be the default setting for everybody:

    Or worse:

  10. That is pretty bad. It reminds me of a law office where I worked one time. We had a system where we could play CDs for our hold music & I put on a nice inoffensive James Taylor CD. But then Steamroller Blues came on while we had a pretty important client on hold & that was the end of that!