Salon music as we use the term today refers to music played for
background. For instance, it would not apply to a carousel organ,
because that is immediate to the ride itself, and a basic reason to
ride the carousel, but a silent carousel in a shopping center with
someone or some thing providing background music, not just for the
carousel but the whole area, would be salon music.
One characteristic of salon music is that it's played quietly, to be
unobtrusive. If a piano prodigy sat down to a large grand and played
classical music, utilizing the entire dynamic range to entertain, he
would not be playing "salon" music style. He would be performing as
the main center of attention. He could be playing in a salon; however,
that doesn't make his performance "salon."
I think that the term "salon", in America today, refers to an exclusive
area or room of mutual interest, separated from the street or concourse
and limited to patrons of similar status or interest -- in other words,
not a Wal-Mart store! It can also be a saloon, but seldom. We refer
to drawing rooms of an elegant nature as salon style. A salon is a
fashionable, exclusive, sophisticated setting catering to members or
patrons of mutual interest, I think. So salon music is light,
fashionable, not characterized by dynamic range, and stays subdued and
in the background.
When we say that some reproducing pianos are good at salon music, that
means they can do that realistically. The electronic players are
especially good at that, and can go on and on for hours, providing a