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