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tyrannical ambient front
Caution: The following remarks are by a card carrying member
of the "Tyrannical Ambient Front". Those easily offended by the
lack of respect given to tradional musical logic, should avert their
gaze now................or read on, and gather new scorn.
With all due respect to the recent astute and insightful comments
made by Kim & Andre and others on the issue of ambience, wait!
You've forgotten the extremely quiet and unobtrusive subject that
you chose to discuss initially. Don't take offense, everybody does
it. I don't remember the last time I read any print media relating to
supposedly "ambient music" that didn't immediately veer of into
little more than a lame discography with no discussion of the genre's
history. Once "new age" came along as a catch all (featuring well
behaved synthesizers,audiences, and sales figures) then critics
could sweep those pesky musical innovators passive and static
alike, under the new age rug. That a style of music that seeks to,
"mingle with the sounds of knives and forks at the dinnertable"-Satie
or be"as ignorable as it is listenable"-Eno ,should find itself unable
to articulate it's concerns as they relate to it's being an evolving
musical style, is not surprising. But their is over 100 years of work
between Satie and Eno, by a wide array of artists who have utilized
traditional and electronic means of composition to archive
explorations into sonic spaces never heard before. Even the
seemingly most obtuse and difficult (stylisticly) composers have,
hidden in their catalogue, a work of a passive or contemplative nature.
For that matter musical works that approach a truly ambient
sensability have existed in cultures worldwide for thousands of years,
but the concert bootlegs are hard to find and crowd noise is crowd
noise. A whole list of styles that fall within the "avante garde"
have contributed pioneering techniques and devices that have
slowly made new textures and sounds part of the modern global
village. The impact of loop technology one hundred years hence
on this planets music could be astounding. Will the really striking
and popular musical styles that use this technology be seen as
owing a debt of gratitude to the ambient explorers of old?....I doubt
pop eats itself ....However that doesn't diminish the value of the
ambient contingent. Good ambient music is as totally interactive with
both a listening space and the events that occur in that space as it
can be while anticipating the thresholds of audience perception.
The question of what constitutes too much or not enough musical
activity to qualify as being "ambient" simply constrains the possible
variations of venue for performance of a musical style that seeks to
gauge it's technique to an entire performance space and time in
a more sympathetic fashion than most traditional music.
Which is not to say that a good group or performer can't "move"
with the mood of the room from snoring to frantic and back, should
the spirit move them all. I guess what I mean to say is that
sometimes "heavy metal" tonalities are the correct texture to create
an ambience appropriate for a particular space and time and as
such the "ambient" label actually covers every possible style that
could ever be mislabeled. As you can see this "ambience" thing
everything and nothing at all and what with it's place secure in the
historical development of "loop" oriented music..why, you have
nothing to fear from them old ambient hounds hangin around the
loop porch. Whose to say that if we filled a stadium with loop-
technology users from around the world that they wouldn't all split
into seperate camps anyway, they could prove all too human in
that respect. Being a 39 yr old white male self employed at poverty
level wages with a wife and 2 kids, limits my fiscal clout ,but not my
desire to see music fully embrace the possibilities of new
technologies, new ears to hear it and interpret it's meaning..and
think of what to call it.
I'm shuttin up.... and pluggin in...
P.S. I wanted to recommend
again to anyone interested in
the issue of ambience, a book
titled "The Tuning of The World"
by R. Murray Schafer 1977 published
by Alfred A. Knopf