Newspaper editors can’t read an article anywhere without noticing the comma splice, the improper use of a semicolon, or – horrors – a misspelled word.

I am a Music Designer. I spend my day listening to music (new and old) and arranging songs into a context to convey a meaning or a feeling to a customer when they hear it. And, like an editor, I am always observant of the music around me and whether or not it “fits.”

A few days after Christmas, I ate Chinese food in a restaurant with my mother. Christmas music played on their sound system. On the music programs I control, the holiday music had, for the most part, ended on December 25th or 26th. A few clients had specific requests to have it play until New Year’s Eve. As I ate my won ton soup and discussed New Year plans with my mother, I debated in my head whether it bothered me to hear Christmas music days after Christmas. I decided it wasn’t hearing Holiday music that bothered me as much as hearing BAD holiday music bothered me. I’m a firm believer in not forcing anyone to listen to the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I filed the thoughts away for next December so I can revisit them when I’m planning with my clients.

This week, I had another experience of critiquing the music design of a business. My new cell phone has had troubles and has, therefore, been in and out of the shop under its warranty. Because of this, I’ve been on the phone with parts warehouses and warranty fulfillment outlets more than I would like. I certainly make some value judgments on a business based on their on-hold music.

The music was loud, too loud, so I couldn’t hold the phone to my ear while I waited and waited. And it was louder than the phone system could handle, so the music was also distorted and tinny. Ah, but the worst part was the part that I can control for my clients. The content. It was an instrumental program. Not a light, orchestral piece. No, it was bass-heavy and with heavy horns – some form of jazz, I suppose, but really bad jazz. It sounded like the music that plays during a bad movie when the police have to go into a “gentleman’s club” to the stripper that dates the drug dealer.

My phone is now fixed and back in my possession so I won’t be on hold with that business again for a while. But it reminds me to call my clients again and make sure the music I have designed for them conveys their image and their brand, even over the phone.

– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design