|Cultural origins||1960s and 1970s, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Japan|
Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasises tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of slow instrumental music, it uses repetitive, but gentle, soothing sound patterns that can be described as sonic wallpaper to complement or alter one’s space and to generate a sense of calmness.The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality.
In music, Form refers to the structure of a musical composition or performance. In "Worlds of Music", Jeff Todd Titon suggests that a number of organizational elements may determine the formal structure of a piece of music, such as "the arrangement of musical units of rhythm, melody, and or/ harmony that show repetition or variation, the arrangement of the instruments, or the way a symphonic piece is orchestrated", among other factors.
Rhythm generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions". This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds ; to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.
Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics technology may be called an acoustical engineer. The application of acoustics is present in almost all aspects of modern society with the most obvious being the audio and noise control industries.
Ambient music focuses on creating a mood or atmosphere through synthesizers and timbral qualities, often lacking the presence of any net composition, beat, or structured melody.It uses textural layers of sound without prevalent musical tropes, rewarding both passive and active listening. Nature soundscapes are usually included, and the sounds of acoustic instruments such as the piano, strings and flute, among others, may be emulated through a synthesizer. According to Brian Eno, one of its pioneers, "Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting."
In psychology, a mood is an emotional state. In contrast to emotions, feelings, or affects, moods are less specific, less intense and less likely to be provoked or instantiated by a particular stimulus or event. Moods are typically described as having either a positive or negative valence. In other words, people usually talk about being in a good mood or a bad mood.
In music, timbre is the perceived sound quality of a musical note, sound or tone. Timbre distinguishes different types of sound production, such as choir voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. It also enables listeners to distinguish different instruments in the same category.
Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
The genre originated in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s, when new musical instruments were being introduced to a wider market, such as the synthesizer.Eno named and popularized ambient music in 1978 with his album Ambient 1: Music for Airports . It saw a revival towards the late 1980s with the prominence of house and techno music, growing a cult following by the 1990s. Ambient music may have elements of new-age music and drone music, as some works may use sustained or repeated notes.
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
A synthesizer or synthesiser is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals that may be converted to sound. Synthesizers may imitate traditional musical instruments such as piano, flute, vocals, or natural sounds such as ocean waves; or generate novel electronic timbres. They are often played with a musical keyboard, but they can be controlled via a variety of other devices, including music sequencers, instrument controllers, fingerboards, guitar synthesizers, wind controllers, and electronic drums. Synthesizers without built-in controllers are often called sound modules, and are controlled via USB, MIDI or CV/gate using a controller device, often a MIDI keyboard or other controller.
Ambient 1: Music for Airports is the sixth studio album by Brian Eno, released by Polydor Records in 1978. The album consists of four compositions created by layering tape loops of differing lengths, and was designed to be continuously looped as a sound installation, with the intent of defusing the tense, anxious atmosphere of an airport terminal.
Ambient music did not achieve large commercial success, being criticized as having a "boring" and "over-intellectual" sound.Nevertheless, it has attained a certain degree of acclaim throughout the years, especially in the internet age. Due to its relatively open style, ambient music often takes influences from many other genres, ranging from classical, avant-garde music, folk, jazz, and world music, among several others.
Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period. The major time divisions of Western art music are as follows:
Avant-garde music is music that is considered to be at the forefront of experimentation or innovation in its field, with the term "avant-garde" implying a critique of existing aesthetic conventions, rejection of the status quo in favor of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences.
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
As an early 20th-century French composer, Erik Satie used such Dadaist-inspired explorations to create an early form of ambient/background music that he labeled "furniture music" (Musique d'ameublement). This he described as being the sort of music that could be played during a dinner to create a background atmosphere for that activity, rather than serving as the focus of attention.
Éric Alfred Leslie Satie, who signed his name Erik Satie after 1884, was a French composer and pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th-century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, Surrealism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.
Furniture music, or in French musique d’ameublement, is background music originally played by live performers. The term was coined by Erik Satie in 1917.
In his own words, Satie sought to create "a music...which will be part of the noises of the environment, will take them into consideration. I think of it as melodious, softening the noises of the knives and forks at dinner, not dominating them, not imposing itself. It would fill up those heavy silences that sometime fall between friends dining together. It would spare them the trouble of paying attention to their own banal remarks. And at the same time it would neutralize the street noises which so indiscreetly enter into the play of conversation. To make such music would be to respond to a need."
Noise pollution, also known as environmental noise or sound pollution, is the propagation of noise with harmful impact on the activity of human or animal life. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines, transport and propagation systems. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas. Some of the main sources of noise in residential areas include loud music, transportation noise, lawn care maintenance, nearby construction, or young people yelling. Noise pollution associated with household electricity generators is an emerging environmental degradation in many developing nations. The average noise level of 97.60 dB obtained exceeded the WHO value of 50 dB allowed for residential areas. Research suggests that noise pollution is the highest in low-income and racial minority neighborhoods. Documented problems associated with urban environment noise go back as far as ancient Rome.
A need is something that is necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants in that, in the case of a need, a deficiency causes a clear adverse outcome: a dysfunction or death. In other words, a need is something required for a safe, stable and healthy life while a want is a desire, wish or aspiration. When needs or wants are backed by purchasing power, they have the potential to become economic demands.
In the 1960s, many music groups experimented with unusual methods, with some of them creating what would later be called ambient music. In 1969, the group Coum Transmissions were performing sonic experiments in British art schools.Many pieces of ambient music were released in England and the United States of America between the late 1960s and the 1990s. Some 1960s music with ambient elements include Music for Zen Meditation by Tony Scott (musician) (1964), Soothing Sounds for Baby by Raymond Scott (1964), and Music for Yoga Meditation and Other Joys by Tony Scott (1968).
Developing in the 1970s, ambient stemmed from the experimental and synthesizer-oriented styles of the period. Although Jamaican dub musicians such as King Tubby,Japanese electronic music composers such as Isao Tomita, as well as the psychoacoustic soundscapes of Irv Teibel's Environments series, and German bands such as Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream, predate him in the creation of ambient music and/or were contemporaneous with him, Brian Eno played a key role in its development and popularization.
The concept of background or furniture music had already existed some time before, but only in the 70s was ambient music first created, which incorporated New Age ideals with the newly invented modular synthesizer. Eno went on to record 1975's Discreet Music with this in mind, suggesting that it be listened to at "comparatively low levels, even to the extent that it frequently falls below the threshold of audibility",referring to Satie's quote about his musique d'ameublement.
The impact the rise of the synthesizer in modern music had on ambient as a genre cannot be overstated; as Ralf Hutter of early electronic pioneers Kraftwerk said in a 1977 Billboard interview: "Electronics is beyond nations and colors...with electronics everything is possible. The only limit is with the composer".The Yellow Magic Orchestra developed a distinct style of ambient electronic music that would later be developed into ambient house music.
The English producer Brian Eno is credited with coining the term "ambient music" in the mid-1970s. He used the term to describe music that can be "actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener", and which exists on the "cusp between melody and texture".[ citation needed ] In the liner notes for his 1978 album Ambient 1:Music for Airports, Eno wrote:
Whereas the extant canned music companies proceed from the basis of regularizing environments by blanketing their acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncrasies, Ambient Music is intended to enhance these. Whereas conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest) from the music, Ambient Music retains these qualities. And whereas their intention is to "brighten" the environment by adding stimulus to it (thus supposedly alleviating the tedium of routine tasks and leveling out the natural ups and downs of the body rhythms) Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think. Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.
Eno, who describes himself as a "non-musician", termed his experiments in sound as "treatments" rather than traditional performances.
In 2010, Eno said other artists were creating similar music in the mid-1970s, but that "I just gave it a name. Which is exactly what it needed ... By naming something you create a difference. You say that this is now real. Names are very important."
The continued development of the synthesizer, namely the FM synthesizer, was instrumental in the maturing of ambient music throughout the 1980s. With the commercial release of synthesizers such as the Yamaha DX7 and the Korg M1 in the mid 1980s, the possibilities to create a sonic landscape increased through the use of sampling. Many of these FM synthesizers included capabilities of MIDI clock synching and external hardware compatibility, allowing the music to be much more textured than before. By the late 1980s there was a steep increase in the incorporation of the computer in the writing and recording process of records. The sixteen-bit Macintosh platform with built-in sound, and comparable IBM models would find themselves in studios and homes of musicians and record makers.
By the early 1990s, artists such as the Orb, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, the Irresistible Force, Geir Jenssen's Biosphere, and the Higher Intelligence Agency gained commercial success and were being referred to by the popular music press as ambient house, ambient techno, IDM or simply "ambient". Ambient compositions are often quite lengthy, much longer than more popular, commercial forms of music. The term chillout emerged from British ecstasy culture which was originally applied in relaxed downtempo "chillout rooms" outside of the main dance floor where ambient, dub and downtempo beats were played to ease the tripping mind.
London artists such as Aphex Twin (specifically: Selected Ambient Works Volume II , 1994), Global Communication ( 76:14 , 1994), The Future Sound of London ( Lifeforms , 1994, ISDN , 1994), The Black Dog ( Temple of Transparent Balls , 1993), Autechre ( Incunabula , 1993, Amber , 1994), Boards of Canada, and The KLF's seminal Chill Out , 1990, all took a part in popularising and diversifying ambient music where it was used as a calming respite from the intensity of the hardcore and techno popular at that time.
By the late 2000s and 2010s, ambient music gained the most popularity and widespread recognition through internet, namely on YouTube, with uploaded pieces, usually ranging from 1 to 8 hours long, getting over millions of hits. Such videos are usually titled, or are generally known as, "relaxing music", and may be influenced by other music genres. Ambient videos assist online listeners with yoga, study, sleep, massage, meditation and gaining optimism, inspiration, and creating peaceful atmosphere in their rooms or other environments.As of 2018 ambient music inspired by the anime soundtracks of their childhoods had become popular amongst millennials.
Many uploaded ambient videos tend to be influenced by biomusic where they feature sounds of nature, though the sounds would be modified with reverbs and delay units to make spacey versions of the sounds as part of the ambience. Such natural sounds oftentimes include those of a beach, rainforest, thunderstorm and rainfall, among others, with vocalizations of animals such as bird songs being used as well. Pieces containing binaural beats are common and popular uploads as well, which provide music therapy and stress management for the listener.
Verified YouTube channels, such as aptly titled Ambient has over 200,000 subscribers.Other verified channels that also publish ambient music include, Meditation Relax Music, which has over 1 million subscribers, Soothing Relaxation with 800,000 subscribers, and Relaxing White Noise with over 500,000 subscribers, among others. iTunes and Spotify have digital radio stations that feature ambient music, which are mostly produced by independent labels.
Ambient dub involves the genre melding of dub styles. It was pioneered by King Tubby and other Jamaican sound artists from the 1960s to the early 1970s, using DJ-inspired ambient electronica, complete with all the inherent drop-outs, echo, equalization and psychedelic electronic effects. It often features layering techniques and incorporates elements of world music, deep bass lines and harmonic sounds.According to David Toop, "Dub music is like a long echo delay, looping through time...turning the rational order of musical sequences into an ocean of sensation." Notable artists within the genre include Dreadzone, Higher Intelligence Agency, The Orb, Ott, Loop Guru, Woob and Transglobal Underground as well as Banco de Gaia.
Ambient house is a musical category founded in the late 1980s that is used to describe acid house featuring ambient music elements and atmospheres.Tracks in the ambient house genre typically feature four-on-the-floor beats, synth pads, and vocal samples integrated in an atmospheric style. Ambient house tracks generally lack a diatonic center and feature much atonality along with synthesized chords. The Dutch Brainvoyager is an example of this genre. Illbient is another form of ambient house music.
Ambient techno is a music category emerging in the late 1980s that is used to describe ambient music atmospheres with the rhythmic and melodic elements of techno.Notable artists include Aphex Twin, B12, Autechre, and The Black Dog.
Ambient industrial is a hybrid genre of industrial and ambient music; the term industrial being used in the original experimental sense, rather than in the sense of industrial metal.A "typical" ambient industrial work (if there is such a thing) might consist of evolving dissonant harmonies of metallic drones and resonances, extreme low frequency rumbles and machine noises, perhaps supplemented by gongs, percussive rhythms, bullroarers, distorted voices or anything else the artist might care to sample (often processed to the point where the original sample is no longer recognizable). Entire works may be based on radio telescope recordings, the babbling of newborn babies, or sounds recorded through contact microphones on telegraph wires.
Ambient pop is an extension of dream pop, possessing a shape and form common to conventional pop, while its electronic textures and atmospheres mirror the meditative qualities of ambient. It is influenced by the lock-groove melodies of krautrock, but is less abrasive.
Brian Eno's original vision of ambient music as unobtrusive musical wallpaper, later fused with warm house rhythms and given playful qualities by the Orb in the 1990s, found its opposite in the style known as dark ambient. Populated by a wide assortment of personalities—ranging from older industrial and metal experimentalists (Scorn's Mick Harris, Current 93's David Tibet, Nurse with Wound's Steven Stapleton) to electronic boffins (Kim Cascone/PGR, Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia), Japanese noise artists (K.K. Null, Merzbow), and latter-day indie rockers (Main, Bark Psychosis) -- dark ambient features toned-down or entirely missing beats with unsettling passages of keyboards, eerie samples, and treated guitar effects. Like most styles related in some way to electronic/dance music of the '90s, it's a very nebulous term; many artists enter or leave the style with each successive release.Related styles include ambient industrial (see below) and isolationist ambient.
Space music, also spelled "Spacemusic", includes music from the ambient genre as well as a broad range of other genres with certain characteristics in common to create the experience of contemplative spaciousness.
Space music ranges from simple to complex sonic textures sometimes lacking conventional melodic, rhythmic, or vocal components,generally evoking a sense of "continuum of spatial imagery and emotion", beneficial introspection, deep listening and sensations of floating, cruising or flying.
Space music is used by individuals for both background enhancement and foreground listening, often with headphones, to stimulate relaxation, contemplation, inspiration and generally peaceful expansive moodsand soundscapes. Space music is also a component of many film soundtracks and is commonly used in planetariums, as a relaxation aid and for meditation.
Drum and bass, is a genre and branch of electronic music which emerged from rave and jungle scenes in Britain during the early 1990s. The style is often characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, sampled sources, and synthesizers.
House music is a genre of electronic dance music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s. Early house music was generally characterized by repetitive 4/4 beats, rhythms provided by drum machines, off-beat hi-hat cymbals, and synthesized basslines. While house displayed several characteristics similar to disco music, which preceded and influenced it, as both were DJ and record producer-created dance music, house was more electronic and minimalistic. The mechanical, repetitive rhythm of house was one of its main components. Many house compositions were instrumental, with no vocals; some had singing throughout the song with lyrics; and some had singing but no actual words.
Intelligent dance music is a form of electronic music originating in the early 1990s which was regarded as "cerebral" and better suited to "home listening" than dancing. Emerging from electronic and rave music styles such as techno, acid house, ambient music, and breakbeat, IDM tended to rely upon individualistic experimentation rather than adhering to characteristics associated with specific genres. Prominent artists associated with the genre include Aphex Twin, μ-Ziq, the Black Dog, the Orb, the Future Sound of London, Autechre, Luke Vibert, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares and Boards of Canada.
Electronica encompasses a broad group of electronic-based styles such as techno, house, ambient, jungle and other electronic music styles intended not just for dancing.
Juan Atkins is an American musician. He is widely credited as the originator of techno music, specifically Detroit techno along with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The three, sometimes called the Belleville Three, attended high school together in Belleville, Michigan, near Detroit.
Ambient techno is a 1990s offshoot of techno and ambient house that united the atmospheric textures of ambient music with the melodic and rhythmic elements of techno and electro. It was pioneered by electronic artists such as B12, Aphex Twin, the Black Dog, Higher Intelligence Agency, and Biosphere.
Jon Hassell is an American trumpet player and composer active since the 1960s. He is best known for developing the musical concept known as "Fourth World," which unifies ideas from minimalism, various world music sources, and his electronic manipulation of the trumpet. The concept was first articulated on Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, his 1980 collaboration with Brian Eno. He has also worked with artists such as the Theatre of Eternal Music, Talking Heads, Farafina, Peter Gabriel, Ani DiFranco, Techno Animal, and Ry Cooder.
Downtempo is a genre of electronic music similar to ambient music, but with a greater emphasis on beats and a less "earthy" sound than trip hop.
Robert Rich is an ambient musician and composer based in California, United States. With a discography spanning over 30 years, he is widely regarded as a figure whose sound has greatly influenced today's ambient, new-age, and even IDM.
New-age music is a genre of music intended to create artistic inspiration, relaxation, and optimism. It is used by listeners for yoga, massage, meditation, reading as a method of stress management to bring about a state of ecstasy rather than trance, or to create a peaceful atmosphere in their home or other environments, and is associated with environmentalism and New Age spirituality.
Star's End is a weekly, five-hour-long new-age music radio show broadcast by 88.5 WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania's radio station, in Philadelphia. It is the second longest-running show of its type in the world, after Hearts of Space.
Dark ambient is a genre of post-industrial music that features an ominous, dark droning and often gloomy, monumental or catacombal atmosphere, partially with discordant overtones. It shows similarities towards ambient music, a genre that has been cited as a main influence by many dark ambient artists, both conceptually and compositionally. Although mostly electronically generated, dark ambient also includes the sampling of hand-played instruments and semi-acoustic recording procedures, and is strongly related to ritual industrial music.
Drone music, drone-based music, or simply drone, is a subgenre of minimal music that emphasizes the use of sustained sounds, notes, or tone clusters – called drones. It is typically characterized by lengthy audio programs with relatively slight harmonic variations throughout each piece. La Monte Young, one of its 1960s originators, defined it in 2000 as "the sustained tone branch of minimalism".
Cluster were a German experimental musical group consisting of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. They recorded albums in a wide variety of styles across electronic, avant-garde, and rock music, and influenced the development of contemporary popular electronic and ambient music. Cluster was active from 1971 until 2010, releasing a total of 15 albums, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Conny Plank, and Michael Rother. Musician, writer and rock historian Julian Cope places three Cluster albums in his Krautrock Top 50 and The Wire places Cluster's debut album Cluster '71 in their "One Hundred Records That Set The World On Fire".
Space music, also called spacemusic, is a subgenre of new-age music and is described as "tranquil, hypnotic and moving". It is derived from ambient music and is associated with lounge music, easy listening, and elevator music.
Hearts of Space is a United States weekly syndicated public radio show featuring music of a contemplative nature drawn largely from the ambient, new-age and electronic genres, while also including classical, world, Celtic, experimental, and other music selections. For many years, the show's producer and presenter, Stephen Hill, has applied the term "space music" to the music broadcast on the show, irrespective of genre. It is the longest-running radio program of its type in the world. Each episode ends with Hill gently saying, "Safe journeys, space fans... wherever you are."
Michael Stearns is an American musician and composer of ambient music. He is also known as a film composer, sound designer and soundtrack producer for large format films, theatrical films, documentaries, commercials, and themed attractions.
Space-themed music is any music, from any genre or style, with lyrics or titles relating to outer space or space travel.
Eurotechno refers to the musical soundtrack by English group Stakker for their 1989 experimental short film of the same name. The original film was an avant-garde experiment in the audiovisual videola genre and features rapidly shifting colourful computer graphics, reflecting the influence of rave culture. Although the visuals of the film were primarily the work of Stakker members Marek Pytel, Mark McClean and Colin Scott, the musical soundtrack was largely the work of Brian Dougans, later of The Future Sound of London. The 25-minute soundtrack was recorded using a Roland TB-303, and reflects the fast-shifting momentum of the film by incorporating fragmented elements of acid house, Chicago house and Detroit techno that shift after their brief appearances, thus contributing to an intricately layered style.