Ambient Music

By jaxster
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    History and Origins of Ambient Music

    History of Ambient Music
  • "Furniture Music" by Eric Satie

    "Furniture Music" by Eric Satie
    5 pieces of music, quite repetitive, designed to be used as a backdrop, rather than the centrepiece. Satie influenced the minimalist movement - eg John Cage and later the Ambient music movement - Brian Eno cites him as an influence.
  • Wired Radio Founded by George Squier

    Wired Radio Founded by George Squier
    Organisation founded to pipe music to businesses and subscribers over wires - rather than using a radio signal. Originally operated using artists' original material. The company name was later changed to Muzak, Inc.
  • Muzak Inc founded

    Muzak Inc founded
    Major General George Owen Squier founds Muzak, Inc to deliver music to commercial clients.
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  • Music Spurs Efficiency - UK Study

    Music Spurs Efficiency - UK Study
    A study in the UK showed increased efficiency and reduced absenteeism in workplaces occurs where music is played. Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey showed that 'functional music' reduced absenteeism by 88% and early departures by 53% A dairy in Pennsylvania played its cows the Blue Danube, and the cows produced more milk.... and chickens were demonstrated to lay more eggs... This led to a demand for "functional music".
  • US enters WWII

    US enters WWII
    Following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the US joins the Second World War. There is therefore a need for high productivity in the factories supplying the war effort. Muzak was used to increase output by 11%, and got its break into the corporate world.
  • Stimulus Progression in the 1950s

    Stimulus Progression in the 1950s
    Muzak applied the idea of functional music at work, calling it Stimulus Progression. They made instrumental versions of popular music in 15min chunks, with 15mins of silence in between, increasing intensity/tempo. No lyrics - it was to intended as background music - it was thought that lyrics would distract workers. Stimulus Progression was said to increase concentration, lower blood pressure and increase productivity. Soon Muzak was everywhere.... even in the White House
  • 1948 onwards Musique Concrète

    Musique concrète, developed by French composer Pierre Schaeffer around 1948, prefigures ambient in that it uses recorded samples. Musique concrete used some early processing (eg reversing, changing speed, or cutting short sampled sounds) and the samples were assembled to make an interesting whole. These ideas are very much present in Eno's work, probably arriving with him through the progressive and art rock route, as the technique of tape looping became popular in the 1960s and 70s.
  • 4'33" - John Cage

    4'33" - John Cage
    What the audience hears is not silence, but whatever background noises there are in the auditorium. The Rules
  • Muzak as a derogatory term

    Not everyone appreciates the orchestral arrangements by Muzak, and over time, as its use grows and it pervades ordinary life, the term takes on a somewhat derogatory meaning, because of the 'manufactured' nature of their orchestral covers. It is viewed as not being of great cultural weight, lacking something in musical integrity and being inferior in some way to the original versions of the music played.
  • Foreground Music -1960s-1970s

    Foreground Music was a movement away from doing orchestral covers of popular works. It was put into place with Muzak introducing "original artist music programming"
  • Tangerine Dream Founded

    Band formed, initially producing Krautrock, but later producing a variety of electronic music styles, including a large number of film soundtracks.
  • Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

    Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
    First record on the Virgin Records label. Recorded at the Manor studios in Oxfordshire, with Mike Oldfield living on site and grabbing studio time when he could. Not strictly ambient - technically this is prog rock, but could well have been an influence on the genre, as it was a huge instrumental hit.
  • (No Pussyfooting) - Fripp & Eno

    (No Pussyfooting) - Fripp & Eno
    One of Eno's early experiments with Ambient music, with the help of Prog Rock legend Robert Fripp.
    Tracks featured experimental tape loops of Fripp's and Eno's playing (a technique later dubbed Frippertronics).
  • Here Come the Warm Jets - Eno's first solo album

    Here Come the Warm Jets - Eno's first solo album
    After Eno left Roxy Music, he began a solo career. Here Come the Warm Jets is Eno's first solo album and mixed some glam rock and art rock elements, as well as being experimental in the way it was approached.
  • Labelling Issues (Part I)

    New Age music (downtempo music designed for eg meditation, yoga, creating a positive mood) is born around this time and reaches a significant level of popularity by the mid 80s Because of similarities between the genres - eg the use of ambient sounds in some new age music - there is now some confusion over what ambient music is. Some new age artists are influenced by ambient. But even "new age" music has trouble defining itself...
  • Discreet Music - Eno's First Ambient Piece

    Discreet Music - Eno's First Ambient Piece
    Eno's fourth solo album and first ambient work.
  • Ambient 1: Music for Airports

    Ambient 1: Music for Airports
    Eno's sixth studio album - the first album where ambient music became a concept. The album was designed to be looped in airport terminals - like canned music, but better.
    The Ambient Manifesto
    The Ambient Manifesto was printed on the sleeve, describing
    what Eno intended the genre to be and why. The music comprises atmospheric synth washes & intermittent piano chords. It has no drum beat, and feels very slow. Not a lot happens.
  • Sleep Concerts - Robert Rich

    Sleep Concerts - Robert Rich
    From approx 1982-84, Robert Rich put on night time concerts of ambient music in the San Francisco Bay area, lasting around 9 hours. The concerts were intended to influence REM sleep and dreams. Concert goers brought their own sleeping bags.
    The Somnium album (2001) is based on these concerts.
  • Koyaanisqatsi

    This film, directed by Godfrey Reggio, had a minimalist score by Phillip Glass, which shares a lot of similarities with Ambient music styles - the repetition, evoking an atmosphere, etc.
    Rather than the film be created first and then scored, there was more of a collaborative approach between Reggio and Glass.
    Glass, although a composer for orchestra, is included in the Ambient Music Guide, and also mentioned in the list of ambient artists on Wikipedia.
  • David Sylvian - Gone to Earth

    David Sylvian - Gone to Earth
    Double Album. One record was vocal tracks, and the other ambient music. Robert Fripp played on it. Also recorded partly at the Manor Studios, where Tubular Bells was recorded.
  • Labelling Issues Part II

    Around the end of the 1980s, there was a shift in the meaning of the term ambient when applied to music (although Eno and others are still making Ambient with the original meaning).
    As electronic dance music took off, some artists started to use ambient with a beat - unlike earlier works which tend to be very loose. The word ambient is frequently applied to this music, but it is also known as 'chillout', or downtempo.
  • Selected Ambient Works 85-92 - Aphex Twin

    Selected Ambient Works 85-92 - Aphex Twin
    Critically acclaimed ambient album by Richard D James. The works are ambient, but contain a definite drum beat, unlike Eno's ambient work before it, which was very loosely defined rhythmically and did not feature drums.
  • Artificial Intelligence Compilation, Warp records

    Artificial Intelligence Compilation, Warp records
    Warp records, which started as a Sheffield record shop, compiled a selection of more interesting B-sides and the album helped coin the term 'intelligent dance music' / IDM. There is considerable overlap between IDM and ambient and the boundaries are not very clear - artists like Aphex Twin being a case in point.
  • Study on Background Music for Premature Babies

    Study on Background Music for Premature Babies
    In comparison with groups not provided with background music, exposed groups gain weight, increase food intake and reduce their length of stay in hospital (e.g. Cassidy and Standley, 1995).
  • Ambient Monkeys - Tangerine Dream

    Ambient Monkeys - Tangerine Dream
    45 mins of ambient sounds that were used pre-concert during a 1997 tour, with a little synth noise in the background. Released by popular demand. Allegedly.
  • Cows Make 3% More Milk with REM "Everybody Hurts"

    Cows Make 3% More Milk with REM "Everybody Hurts"
    Modern Farmer compiled a suggested playlist to loosen up your livestock, based on a 2001 study by University of Leicester: What a Difference A Day Makes, Aretha Franklin
    Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel
    Moon River, Danny Williams
    Perfect Day, Lou Reed
    Oronoco Flow, Celtic Woman" The tempo is the critical thing for cows....
    REM Everybody Hurts
  • Prem Babies + Background Music Research

    Prem Babies + Background Music Research
    Newborns do better with Mozart than Bach...
  • The Equatorial Stars - Fripp & Eno Reunion

    The Equatorial Stars - Fripp & Eno Reunion
    Fripp & Eno explore ambient further.
  • Beyond Even - Fripp & Eno

    Beyond Even - Fripp & Eno
    Further collaboration, recorded between 1992 and 2006
  • Ongoing Research - Eg Susan Hallam, Institute of Education, UCL

    Ongoing Research - Eg Susan Hallam, Institute of Education, UCL
    The Effects of Background Music on Health and Wellbeing
    in Music, Health, and Wellbeing "Commercial companies advise businesses on the best way to utilize music to attract customers, maintain their interest, and encourage them to purchase more; music is used by a range of public services to manipulate behaviour and reduce anxiety or aggressive tendencies; while individuals use music to support a variety of activities in their lives, change their moods, and create particular ambiences..."
  • Brian Eno - Lux

    Brian Eno - Lux
    Latest ambient offering from Eno - on Sheffield's Warp records, home of IDM, and where Aphex Twin has issued much of his material
    Release was timed with an online art project with public participation to capture the different lighting at 4 different times of day and night.
  • The Future....

    Without a doubt, as culture, music, biological knowledge and psychology develop, there will be ongoing research into using background music as a way of manipulating eg peoples' behaviour and for more health purposes. At the same time as more functional uses are discovered, Ambient music in all its forms continues to be made, so the genre is broadening. So there is potential for background and ambient music to keep developing... until the cows come home, perhaps?