We need music for our office.
January 15, 2010 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me find music for our office that isn't TOO boring. My husband is a home builder and his office is one of the upscale homes he has built. We want to play music through the surround sound system that is "appropriate" to a professional atmosphere in which the public will visit. Right now I have some Michael Buble, some bossa nova,some Three Tenors. Can you guys suggest something upbeat and not too Muzac-y? Thanks.
posted by cherrybounce to Work & Money (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
All instrumental, pleasant, and good:

David Brubeck Quartet

Ravel - any piano music

Charlie Christian - The Genius of the Electric Guitar

Corelli - Concerti Grossi
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2010

I'd suggest picking a theme and sticking with it. Nothing is more distracting than hearing Bach and Bowie back to back. (Bach to Bach?)

Some low key jazz is good for creating a casual, welcoming atmosphere. It doesn't have to be that schlocky jazz that you hear in elevators and playing on cubicle radios. It can be Fun Jazz! And of course, classical is a pretty terrific option for a professional, conservative atmosphere.

But whatever you choose, I'd suggest using Pandora or Last.fm to investigate more of a similar type so that you have a good cohesive theme. Or, better yet, get a digital/satellite radio subscription, and let them come up with the playlist for you.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:08 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want jazz, Miles Davis is always good. Bitches' Brew is his best album, as far as I am concerned. Just don't let customers see the name of the album, I guess. No lyrics on the album.
posted by dfriedman at 8:10 AM on January 15, 2010

Bitches' Brew is his best album, as far as I am concerned.

OK, but it's not really appropriate for this context. Try In a Silent Way.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:11 AM on January 15, 2010

Penguin Cafe Orchestra is really fun background music. Try Broadcasting from Home.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try some moderate world music. Buena Vista Social Club (Cuban jazz) comes to mind. Here are some more suggestions.
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:15 AM on January 15, 2010

Seconding In a Silent Way, definitely. On the classical side -- Erik Satie?
posted by pete_22 at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2010

Dengue Fever would make for some funky classiness.

Or you could get some Xavier Cugat or Martin Denny or Les Baxter and, by keeping it nearly subliminally quiet, provide a lovely retro exotica sheen to everything. (I'm in fact listening to Cugat right now, and if I went into a model home with that quietly playing in the background, I'd suddenly start to feel a bit more JFK-era shiny and new and needing a shiny and new house to match.)
posted by Katemonkey at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2010

Yeah, came here to say think about just putting on some great jazz. Miles was going to be my recommend as well. But lots of even contemporary jazz (Claudia Quintet, Maria Schneider Orchestra, Chris Speed...) would also be great. Good jazz is good and not usually distracting. Playing a lot of Buble, 3 Tenors and other sort of 'light radio' music drives a lot of people batty.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:29 AM on January 15, 2010

I love background music in a foreign (to me) language and very upbeat! It puts me in a vacation mood with a happy smile on my face. I'm thinking of something like... Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Salif Keita playing quietly. There are many great artists in the genre! On preview... As the Rev. Cuttle says Buerna Vista Social Club creates just the feeling!
posted by ScotsLament at 8:30 AM on January 15, 2010

Perhaps Kronos Quartet's "Nuevo" for a little world music flavor?
posted by hermitosis at 8:43 AM on January 15, 2010

I suggest you take a listen to some Andrew Bird, it is unique and somewhat upbeat.
posted by nowoutside at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2010

Ambient electronic music fits the bill for me. The gentler end of The Orb, Aphex Twin and similar are all pleasant and non-intrusive.
posted by Fiery Jack at 8:51 AM on January 15, 2010

Definitely Dave Brubeck Quartet. Also:

Ahmad Jamal
Bill Frisell
John Scofield
Stanley Jordan
Tin Hat Trio
Henry Mancini (Specifically: Music from Peter Gunn)
Medeski, Martin & Wood (Although perhaps not 'The Dropper')
posted by usonian at 8:52 AM on January 15, 2010

Oh, and Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grapelli with the Hot Club of France.
posted by usonian at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2010

Most people are put in a good mood by listening to some low-key older jazz in the background; think Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Django Rhinehardt, etc.

If you want something more contemporary, jazzy lounge music I recommend The Thievery Corporation "The Mirror Conspiracy".
posted by sic at 9:01 AM on January 15, 2010

Miles Davis sounds good, get Sketches of Spain and Birth of the Cool as well.

Continuing on the classic/older jazz theme, it might be a good idea to look for modern or unusual covers, this way your customers can recognize something familiar but are not bored. For example, this CD of Sinatra covers by French guitarist Bireli Lagrene, heavily influenced by Django Reinhardt.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:11 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and on a different note, after The Mirror Conspiracy you are required by law to play both CDs of The K&D Sessions by Kruder and Dorfmeister.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:14 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out the online sample of Sirius Chill. Don't let the "electronic music" category scare you off. I'm not a techno/electronic fan (no disrespect) but I really dig this channel.
posted by doorsfan at 9:36 AM on January 15, 2010

Pink Martini is smart and clever.
posted by workerant at 9:46 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend Zimbabwean mbira music. Ambient, soothing, upbeat, unusual, and reputed to have healing powers. Ranges from massage music to highly danceable. Try Forward Kwendas cds for something on the more accessible, ambient end of the spectrum.
posted by vegsister at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2010

At first blush, I'd recommend downtempo electronica, seconding Sirius' Chill station.

But it really depends on your market doesn't it? Try to think of what would make the people who come to you feel "at home."

If it's upscale baby boomers, jazz might do it. Or the light hits of the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Gen X'ers will probably appreciate a nod to the 90's along with a mellow, hip, but more current selection. The Music Choice cable channel called Adult Contemporary I can see working very well with X'ers and millenials.
posted by cross_impact at 10:17 AM on January 15, 2010

You are aware that you need a license to do this, aren't you?
posted by TheRaven at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2010

I would just tune in to the local classical music station and forget about it.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:58 AM on January 15, 2010

A place I used to work played the Amelie soundtrack all the time. Mix of classical and old singers, surprisingly upscale.
posted by zvs at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2010

try Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negro. Excellent background music to work by, I have friends from all different musical taste backgrounds and everybody digs the Ott man. Sort of new age jazz and really tasteful flamenco guitar
posted by Redhush at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2010

Vitamin String Quartet. I heard their rendition of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" in a fairly tony restaurant in Hartford and fell in love.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:15 PM on January 15, 2010

Dave Brubeck ++
Bill Evans
Any Miles Davis EXCEPT for Kind of Blue (overplay burnout)

Putting a Brazilian artist into Pandora should get you some business-apropriate suggestions too, if you don't mind non-english lyrics - try Adriana Calcanhoto, Ana Carolina, Jorge Ben, Milton Nascimento for starters.

Hawaiian slack key guitar music works well, too.
posted by ctmf at 1:00 PM on January 15, 2010

oh, some Jamie Cullum sprinkled in there would be so much fun.
posted by carlh at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2010

Have you ever heard the Verve Remixed albums? The tracks are awesome and very palatable.

Also the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack is pretty rad.
posted by radioamy at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2010

I know a very nice restaurant that plays the Meters and early New Orleans piano jazz. I've always liked the sound.
posted by irisclara at 9:16 PM on January 15, 2010

No, didn't know I needed a license??? Just to play music in my office? Thanks for the suggestions. We're in New Orleans, so I may try to play up on that. I already have some of music suggested and the rest I'm going to listen to. Thanks so much.
posted by cherrybounce at 8:23 AM on January 16, 2010

Wow, sorry: Dave Brubeck Quartet, not David...

(edit function, please!)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:58 AM on January 16, 2010

The Mercury Songbook box set is one of my favourites for a day of low-key music that blends seamlessly into the background for work, has songs I like but can tune out, but also has a few stand-outs that really make me smile when I catch them.
posted by peagood at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2010

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