The Key of G and Slot Machines – How Musicians are tapping into alternate revenue
Walk onto a casino floor and chances are you’ll be awash in the happy sound of C Major. It’s been a long-held belief that slot machine music is specifically tuned to C major, which creates a pleasant tone that helps keep players playing.
Artist Adrian Rew, who recorded and released two albums consisting entirely of ambient casino sounds, says that slot machine developers can spend weeks tweaking this highly-engineered sonic landscape. In the liner notes of Slot Machine Music vol. 1, he recalls a story about one team of designers who spent a month perfecting a single ‘ding’ sound on one machine.
Over the past decade, however, slot machine manufacturers have started moving away from the strict tonalities of the C Major key, thanks largely to advances in technology. Now you can hear licensed music from branded slot machines featuring tracks by everybody from Michael Jackson to Guns ‘n’ Roses. Even thrash metal pioneers Megadeth, considered one of the big four in the metal world, have jumped on the slot machine bandwagon, albeit with an online version only.
Since these newer slot machines have yet to gain ground against the sheer number of legacy games like the classic Wheel of Fortune slots, the traditional C Major tonalities still dominate casino floors. Slot machine manufacturer IGT, who have made both classic games and newer branded machines including the first Elvis branded slot machine, had this to say:
“The original….sounds were centered in the key of C – Once we began creating theme specific content that went away, and pretty much all the key centers of western music is available on any given slot floor. The Key of C still makes appearances regularly, though, and lives on in a lot of legacy products.”
With the land-based gaming industry under constant siege by online alternatives with everything from classic titles to the aforementioned G’n’R slots featuring on many leading portals, it’s probably in the casinos’ best interests to keep the happy chord in play as long as they can, and often in the band’s best interest to license another revenue stream for their music.
written by Aron Madin