The most beautiful song ever recorded is a simple, unassuming tune. Quiet, dulcet, soothing rather than rousing, it’s a piece of music that gently moves you toward sleep, instead of to a fever pitch of emotion. Everyone who has ever heard it has come away feeling refreshed and healed.
The song was written by a musician whose name you have never heard. They have never earned royalties for their effort, even though they composed, wrote, performed, arranged, and recorded the only known performance of the song. They were paid for it. They were paid the equivalent of $40 for the time they spent. Then they gave the song, as a digital file, to the team that would encode it. That team turned it it into a stream of bytes, the fidelity much lower than the original recording, to save space.
You have never heard of this composer, and you’ll never find out what the song is really called. If you have kids you may have heard it. Even then you might not have recognized it as a song, per se. It was probably just in the background, a quiet, calming ambiance. In the middle of the night, when you are exhausted and doing your level best to quiet a tired, unhappy child, you’re not thinking too hard about composers and compositions.
The encoded song was given to engineers, who trapped it in silicon, pressed it into hardware, embedded in and now part of a program that does nothing but play music. The original silicon was duplicated millions of times over, enough times to make our composer a multi-platinum star had they been credited. His song was then distributed as part of a baby swing, available nowhere else, in no other form, never heard on the radio. But for millions of parents and babies, the composer’s work has been accomplished.