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Brain-damage music

Why is it that some banks have such incredibly irritating music, the sort that gives you that brain-damaged feeling, while other banks and financial institutions have music that is much better. BT Business Systems, a subsidiary of British Telecom, must have had the same thing in mind when it conducted a recent survey of "music-on-hold".

Vivaldi, and in particular his Four Seasons, was found to be the most popular choice if you had to be put on hold, according to this survey. The work was rated "most pleasant to listen to", while Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz came second. However, Henry VIII's alleged composition, Greensleeves, was given the thumbs down by over half of the organizations quizzed. Tina Turner's Simply the Best was considered "irritating" by 39% of respondents.

North Supply, a music-on-hold supplier (yes, there is such a thing), which provides music for BT telephone systems, recently put together a top 10. This figured Vivaldi at one, Handel (at four), Bach (at six) and Mozart's Clarinet and Bassoon concerto at seven.

Richard Potts, a partner at North Supply, says the music-on-hold market has become more sophisticated in recent years. "Our customers no longer wish to have just one piece of music playing repeatedly to callers," he says.

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