For anyone who came of age in the era before computers (although after the quill), work had an unmistakable sound: the clickety-clack of a typewriter. It was ubiquitous — an audio clue to those within earshot that someone was busy transmitting thoughts to paper and indelible ink.
The taps and tones produced a tangible product that had the potential to last.
In our increasingly technological and digital era, the sound of mechanical instruments is becoming more and more rare — film projectors, rotary phones, even car engines. And yes, of course, typewriters. For younger generations, work sounds more like the whir of a computer fan, perhaps muffled by noise-canceling headphones.
There are a lot of advantages to our modern world. It is wonderful to use word-processing programs that allow for easy editing, sharing, and spell checking. But something also is being lost.
Perhaps it is so easy to change our thoughts that we don’t stop to think as much before we write, or speak. And as more and more work becomes remote, embodied on our screens, the comfortable syncopation of typewriters emanating from offices is a reality that younger generations will never experience.
There’s no going back, but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember.
So today in our “A Reason to Smile,” we share an unusual piece of music. It is a little silly and certainly whimsical. We found it also to offer a small bit of joy. And a trip down memory lane.
It was written by the American composer Leroy Anderson in 1950 and premiered with the Boston Pops three years later. In “The Typewriter,” the star instrument is indeed a typewriter, which serves a percussive role. The sounds are instantly memorable for those of a certain age, but one wonders what the younger children in the audience of this performance by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra are thinking.
At least they seem to be smiling. And so are we.
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Bless you, Mr. Rather, for sharing this delicious piece of music history. Back in the late 50s and early 60s, all the elementary school students went to symphony concerts geared for young listeners. “Typewriter” was always the most popular piece played. It brings back SUCH wonderful memories. (Trivia: The best gift I ever received from my husband was an expensive keyboard for my computer—I did massive amounts of typing—that precisely emulated the touch and sound of the IBM Selectric 2 typewriter. I’ve used it for 25 years, with a tiny thrill each time I touch a key.)
There was always a beautiful sound in my little newsroom in Kansas (CBS in Hays) when all our typewriters were going and the AP and NWS teletypes were going. The sound of freedom, I always said. Thanks for the reminder.