Sounds of the Office

Folkways Records & Service Co. was incorporated in 1948 in New York City by Moses Asch (1905-1986) and Marian Distler (1919-1964). When defining the term “Folkways” Moses Asch said simply: “Anything that is sound.” In the spirit of Asch’s assessment, one of the most essential, yet least known component of the Folkways collections are recordings made not of music or even speech, but of everyday sounds.

Recorded by Michael Seigel in 1964, “Sounds of the Office” uses the sounds of daily, mundane office activities to document the adolescense of American corporate culture. The album follows office workers through their ordinary day, beginning with the punching of the time clock and a coffee break orchestrated by stove tops, glass jars, and tea kettles.