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Rhythm Typewriter

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Like the piano, the typewriter also contains a system of levers that converts the small movement of a fingertip on a key into a long movement — in this case the movement of the raised type on the end of the type bar. As the typewriter is always played fortissimo, a simple system of levers suffices to connect the key to the type.

The use of the typewriter as a percussion instrument in music. Other noises besides the clicking of keystrokes may be used, such as the carriage return bell.


Perhaps not as common nowadays, since typewriters have been replaced by quieter computer keyboards. However, the faster you type on a keyboard, the harder you're likely to hit the keys, and thus the louder it's likely to be. You'd need to be pretty good to make music with it, but it might be possible.

Often overlaps with Rapid-Fire Typing.


Anime & Manga

  • A variation with a keyboard is used in the first Yotsuba&! image album.


Live-Action TV

  • Are You Being Served?: Used both as the base for the theme tune and occasionally as an interstitial sound between scenes.

Popular Music

  • Perhaps most famously, Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter", which has been used as the Theme Tune to BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz.
  • Another popular example is the Flying Lizards's 1979 cover of Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)".
  • Guster's "All the Way Up to Heaven" and "Barrel of a Gun".
  • The Dolly Parton song "9 to 5". She made the sound by clicking her fingernails together.
  • The Guess Who song "One Way Road to Hell".
  • The clacking keys of a typewriter open the Tom Tom Club's 1981 single "Wordy Rappinghood".
  • This is also the way the Bryan Ferry song "Kiss and Tell" (from his 1987 album Bete Noire) begins.
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  • The Winnipeg band Poor Tree incorporates typewriters into its music. Two or three members would type a poem while reading them, interlocking the lines, words and sounds.
  • Multi-instrumentalist and composer Yann Tiersen has used the typewriter as a percussion instrument in a number of his compositions, notably "Pas si simple" on his 1996 album Rue des Cascades.
  • On the hidden track "Writer's Block" from 2000's Binaural, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder can be heard mashing his typewriter keys over and over.
  • A suite of songs titled "Green Typewriters" is on The Olivia Tremor Control's album Dusk at Cubist Castle, and the sounds of typewriters can be heard in a few of the sections.
  • The album Typewriter Concerto in D by Estonian prog-rock band In Spe.
  • Thomas Dolby used typewriter sounds (keys and bell) in the track "Dissidents" from his second album, The Flat Earth.
  • Brian Eno uses some typewriter percussion on his song "China, My China".
    • Preceded by the lines:
    These poor girls are such fun
    They know what God gave them their fingers for
    (To make percussion over solos)
  • "Money" by The Lovin' Spoonful.
  • "Queen of the Publication" on Olivia Newton-John's album Soul Kiss.
  • "Words" by Madonna.
  • "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Troublemaker" by the All Girl Summer Fun Band.
  • "Lady" by Regina Spektor.
  • "I'll Still Be A Geek After Nobody Thinks It's Chic", aka "Nerd Anthem", by Marian Call.
  • "We Are Happy Landfill" by Gorillaz
  • "My Chair" by Jill Sobule
  • R.E.M.'s "Exhuming McCarthy starts with the sounds of a typewriter.
  • The opening rhythm to "No Pussy Blues" by Grinderman, a Nick Cave project.


  • "A Secretary Is Not a Toy" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
  • "Opening Doors" from Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along.
  • "Embassy Lament" from Chess.
  • "The Speed Test" from Thoroughly Modern Millie uses this. However, the stenographers, sitting at desks, are only pretending to type while actually tap-dancing to mimic the typing noises.

Western Animation

  • Happened unconsciously in Cats Don't Dance.
  • Disney's Tarzan has this, when the young gorillas discover the camp and improvise a musical sequence.
  • In the Animaniacs sketch "Temporary Insanity" (where the Warners take over for Mr. Plotz's secretary), Yakko does this with a non-existent typewriter.


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