Brian Eno Tells The Origin Story For Ambient Music

In this brief video, Brian Eno tells the origin story for his concept of Ambient Music.

ambient-music-defined-brian-eno-music-for-airportsEno’s original definition of Ambient Music, from the liner notes of Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978), states:

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 1978, most listeners were familiar with background music and easy listening music, but not with the idea of musicians looking at background music as a serious genre to work in.

So, in his liner notes, Eno began by contrasting his concept for Ambient Music with Muzak, which many people though of as a sort of dumbed-down background music.

At this point, more people are familiar with the ambient genre than Muzak, so Eno’s once-sentence description, above, works as a concise summation of what he was aiming to achieve.

5 thoughts on “Brian Eno Tells The Origin Story For Ambient Music

  1. Accidents do happen and sometimes they do lead to major breakthroughs.
    Brian Eno was (and is) always my inspiration, watched and listen to everything he has ever released, but never have I known about this piece of trivia.
    Kind of cool… 🙂

  2. when i started doing music (1991)
    i would always try to explain to people what kind of music i did

    i would say ” industrial noise ,, you know like EinstĂĽrzende Neubauten ” , = ??????!

    but every time i said ” noise music .. like Brian Eno ” =:) then they got it
    or at least had a idea what i was talking abut .

  3. Read these liner notes years ago & they made a big impression on me, along with Steve Reich’s comments about Gradual Process music being influenced by standing in the surf at the beach, letting the waves gradually cover your feet with sand.

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