Classical Sounds in Modern “Machines”

We always listen to music, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Recently, I met my friends at a music conference that was held at a casino resort. Our conversation about classical music in our lives began when we heard Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in one of the slot machines there.

household appliances playing classical music

© Brooke Knoll/

We then had a lengthy discussion about the tunes of classical music played from household appliances to bigger engines. Music creates various psychological effects, and classical music has been proven beneficial to many mental and emotional health benefits that manufacturers often add to their products. In this article, I am going to share what we have discovered.

Ice-cream trucks

What are your favorite memories of ice cream trucks? One of my memories is how its distinctive musical sounds always make me happy. Indeed, ice cream trucks like to play classical music. For example, I grew up listening to Austrian composer Johann Strauss II’s The Blue Danube (An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314) which appears in many Hong Kong ice cream trucks.

3 Minutes Mister Softee Music (Johann Strauss II’s The Blue Danube)

Johann Strauss II: An der schönen, blauen Donau (The Beautiful Blue Danube), Op. 314 (New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Leonard Bernstein, cond.)

In addition to The Blue Danube, Greensleeves is also used in Ice cream trucks, like this one in Australia:

Australian Ice Cream Van (Greensleeves)

Today the tune of Greensleeves is known due to Vaughan WilliamsFantasia on Greensleeves. In fact, it is an English traditional folk song composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen, consort Anne Boleyn.

Greensleeves (arr. G. Webber for vocal ensemble) (Philippa Murray, soprano; Francis Brett, bass; Armonico Consort; Christopher Monks, cond.)

Garbage Truck in Taiwan

Taiwan garbage truck (Beethoven’s Für Elise)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle in A Minor, WoO 59, “Für Elise” (Boris Giltburg, piano)

Garbage truck in Tainan, Taiwan (Bądarzewska-Baranowska’s The Maiden’s Prayer)

Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska: The Maiden’s Prayer, Op. 4 (Lang Lang, piano)

In Taiwan, the canary-yellow garbage trucks play music during their service to remind people to take their trash out for collection. The garbage truck music began with the “Trash off the Ground Movement” in 1997 in Taipei. Depending on the service locations, the tune of “Für Elise”(by Beethoven) or “The Maiden’s Prayer” (by Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska) is played upon the arrival of the truck. There are rumors about why the “Für Elise” was selected; one refers to the head of the Health Department being inspired to use this tune as he heard his daughter practicing the piece at home.

Today, the garbage truck music has become a collective memory or experience of the Taiwanese, including my Taiwanese friend, Yi Chang, who told me about it. Perhaps it has also influenced him to pursue a doctorate in music.


Japanese toilet classical music (Chopin’s Etude Op.25, No.1)

Japanese toilets are famously known as advanced, and they include many functions to enhance your experience using their toilets. One of the functions is that they greet you with music. The music they used varies, but the one in the video above is the tune from Chopin’s Etude Op.25, no.1.

Frédéric Chopin: 12 Etudes, Op. 25 – No. 13 in A-Flat Major, Op. 25, No. 1, “Harp Study” (Robert Neumann, piano)

Household Appliances

Zojirushi Induction Heat Rice Cooker Start & Finish Music Chime (“Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” and more melodies)

Many household appliances play classical music these days. Some brands use music as a branding strategy. For example, the tune of the French melody “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” is often heard in Zojirushi’s products, such as their rice cooker and water kettle. Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman was first published in 1761 but later was arranged by Mozart to Twelve Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” in 1781.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 12 Variations in C Major on Ah vous dirai-je, maman, K. 265 (Yoshiko Okada, piano)

music from 200 household appliances


Samsung’s washers and dryers play the jingle from “The Trout” (“Die Forelle”) by Franz Schubert. I have no clues why this piece is chosen.

Samsung Washing Machine (Schubert’s “Die Forelle”)

Franz Schubert: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 114, D. 667, “Die Forelle” (The Trout) – IV. Tema con variazioni (Emanuel Ax, piano; Pamela Frank, violin; Rebecca Young, viola; Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Edgar Meyer, double bass)

A European brand Indesit also has chosen a tune from classical repertoire. The opening tune of Faure’s Requiem is used in their dishwashers and some of their products.

Gabriel Fauré: Requiem, Op. 48 (1893 version, compiled and ed. D. Arnold) – Introït et Kyrie (Oxford Schola Cantorum; Oxford Camerata Orchestra; Colm Carey, organ; Jeremy Summerly, cond.)

Washing machine end tune

In addition to the above machines that play classical music, do you find something else? Please feel free to leave a message if you discover something more!

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  1. The choices are the usual that serious listeners dismiss and perhaps abhore. So nothing wrong with such use. Appropriate.

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