Music For Airports, Thirty Years Later

There’s an interesting article in USA Today, of all places, looking at audio logos for airports and the continuing influence of Brian Eno.

Here are the juicy bits:

Audio logos for airports

In Germany, both the Cologne – Bonn and Frankfurt airports have their own theme songs.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) introduced its theme song, Baby if we try we can ride across the sky, at a conference last spring. Airport public relations manager Robert Payne says the goal was to create a “corporate audio logo” for marketing, branding, and promotional purposes.

“Our song was created to promote the … strategy of developing FRA as much more than just an airport, but as a full-fledged city for business, innovations, ideas, shopping, leisure, etc…”

The Frankfurt Airport theme song (music and lyrics) was written by airport employee Stefan Muschalski whose band, the Master Session Group (MSG), includes several other airport employees. The song is performed at many airport events and is available, along with lyrics and music video, on the Fraport website.

Inspired by Eno

The Cologne-Bonn airport holds an important place in the history of music for airports. After being stuck at this airport for hours in the mid-1970s, musician Brian Eno created Ambient 1: Music for Airports, a genre-establishing album of calming, electronic music for public spaces.

In 2003, inspired by Eno’s effort, the Cologne based band plus49 (the country code for Germany) teamed up with a design firm to create music specifically for the Cologne-Bonn Airport. They wrote on-hold music for the telephones, special elevator music and an airport “gong,” a four-second piece of music called Happy Sky played before every overhead announcement in the airport. The band’s song Symbols & Gateways, written to honor the launch of the Germanwings-Airbus “Spirit of Cologne,” is now the airport theme song and included on an album of airport-inspired music.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the focus is on creating catchy airport theme songs, rather than on Eno’s concept of creating sonic environments for relaxing and reflecting.

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