The weird power of the ice cream van tune

The weird power of the ice cream van tune

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Summer wouldn’t be same without those inimitable chimes. But how do they exert their strange power on us?

If there’s one sound that defines the summer, it’s not any pop song, but the beguiling tunes that drift over our towns and cities from ice cream vans as they take to the streets, looking for hungry customers.

Ever since ice cream vans came into being in the early 20th Century, they have been alerting people to their wares via these inimitably chiming ditties. But what are these melodies’ power over us and is it entirely benign – or, in fact, a bit sinister? We spoke to musician and ethnomusicologist Dan Neely, and Dan Jones, the composer of a new piece of music for seven ice cream vans, to find out.

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