Posted in communication and networking, music

Musical typewriters

Sadly, more and more people today have not actually worked on a typewriter (I have!). They haven’t heard the real sounds of all the parts and gears moving, the rhythm of the keys clacking. The best typists could get a cacophony of sounds out of just one typewriter. The older typewriters with more metal pieces especially had a musical tone to them, all accented by that “ding” that came at the end of the page.

Now, a band in Boston is literally making music out of typewriters. In the same vein as “Stomp” comes the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. Some shun them for not making “real” music; some scold them for destroying old typewriters (one musician claims to go through one every couple of months). But listening to them is musically inspiring, and somewhat nostalgic (although not that much) for the days of metallic clacking rather than the plastic tapping as the signifying sound of people busy at work.

And before you all jump on the attack and say that I’m too young to remember what an awful racket it was to have to work in an office with typewriters, I would like to defend myself with the point that my father worked from home and I plainly remember his typewriter hard at work; in fact I wrote my first short stories on that typewriter. However, I suppose one is a lot better than an entire room of them.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.