You can't hear that whistle blow

Japanese train departure melodies on YouTube and else where. (I know that "elsewhere" is one word. I had too many links, what can I say?)

Now that I've gotten the MetaFilter out of my system, let me offer some brief commentary. Departure melodies are played just before a train leaves a station. They are, in theory, an improvement over ululations and buzzers for several reasons:

  1. They are less abrasive, which is important when the platforms are already jam-packed with commuters and humming with stress;
  2. Their tempos can be, and are, set to a friendly walking pace, subtly encouraging people to take their time (in a way that a sudden WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW from above really doesn't);
  3. They can be different for each station, which helps remind people dozing on the train to get off when it's their stop; on the other hand, it also exposes bare skin to marketers (for example, this endearingly nerdy page explains that the closest station to Disneyland plays "It's a small world after all").

Put less positively, they are an attempt at mind control, directly targeting the emotions and designed to aggregate over kilodays and megapersons into predictable, profitable customer behavior. And you can get addicted.

Popularity factor: 9


I found these recordings about a year ago and I use them as ringtones on my cellular phone. I played one of them for a friend who hadn't been to Japan for a while, at first she had this puzzled look on her face like "where have I heard that before?" Then when it finished, I spoke, "ichiban sen ni densha ga mairimasu node gochui kudasai" and you should have seen the look on her face, it gave new meaning to the idiom "me ga manmaru suru." Ha!


Listening to these on my computer instead of the platform, I suddenly realize how much they sound like the flavor music from Final Fantasy and similar games.


These would make sweet samples for hip-hop beats. Matt, I'm expecting an hip-hop album from you within the next month. Get to it.


I love the Tokyo train station sounds you can use for alerts in Adium--a nice way to let me know my friends have come online without annoying or scaring the hell out of me.


(and I never realized that "mamonaku" was 間 も なく until I saw tnr's post!)


Someone help me think of a rhyme for "shuppatsu".


Let me clarify: a def rhyme.


Now that you mention it, I'm surprised that more stations don't play marketing jingles and whatnot. I mean, we're already assaulted visually. What's so holy about audio? I fully expect, in the near future, to roll into Shinjuku station with a "Hajimete mo Akomu" springing me to action.

I also expect devices like these to soon pervade our sense-space on trains. Perhaps to the olfactory "tunes" of Starbucks and Yoshinoya. And hopefully not deodorant commercials.


I wrote an article discussing the use of these melodies as a way-finding tool in the following article...


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