Saturday, September 10, 2011

Transmission III

Boundaries of time and space are meaningless in the transmission of culture.

Artists complete works that can become part of anyone's experience, and thus may become suggestive of ideas that lead to the creation of new artistic endeavors in the present day and in the future.

Works of art carry the seeds of works to come.  They germinate in the minds of artists, and may be given form in any medium.  A painting may inspire another painting, a piece of music, a sculpture, a poem or novel, or an architectural design.

The creative arts become interrelated in the expansion of the forces of history, uniting such visions as those of cave painters, theoretical physicists, cubists, and jazz musicians.  So it is for ambient music, with its broad synthesis of artistic forms and ideas.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Earth and Water, Fire and Air

Elements of sketch music include representations of sounds within environments, some completely natural and others reflecting social settings with their equally unique panoramic and intimate aspects.

Both environments, the one entirely natural and the other predominately human, are subject to common phenomena, such things that effect sounds as atmospheric conditions, geographic features, variations in light and darkness, echoes, reflections, concentrations and dispersals of sound waves, and, most particularly, change over time.

These are not content-specific sounds, and so do not necessarily dominate thought, awareness, and perception.  As sound collage, such music (or non-music, if you prefer) is designed to respect the consciousness and activities of listeners and to enhance the surroundings with clarity and subtlety.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Inviting the Moon

Consider reading only books or watching only movies that are constructed around variations of the same plot.

Much music merely drives, in general terms, from point A to point B, repeats, changes pattern, returns to point A and B, and ends by repeating point B. Classic songs and imaginative, complex musical pieces are created with standard patterns and typical forms in which verses, choruses, and so forth are combined to best effect, and much that is atypical and avant-garde can be rooted in such forms.

Give thought to a vision of music that emerges, radiates, flows, shades and illuminates, drifts and surges, fills and occupies spaces, revolves, expands, unfolds and transforms sounds into atmospheres.

The sun is one source of light, the moon, another.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


The ubiquity of pop music means easy accessibility; listeners will tend to hear it more often than other styles.  Listeners become receptive to an emotional connectivity associated with content and patterns of sound common to pop music genres. 

Whether in ballad, rock, or dance, these common patterns are built around repetitive rhythms and refrains, and are made cohesive with instrumentation anchored to bass guitar and percussion.  Listeners come to enjoy this frame of reference in the music they prefer; it is imprinted, to whatever extent, as a subtext in the listener's consciousness. 

Music that does not fit this paradigm, with its rhythm, instrumentation, tempo, and "hooks", is not as accessible. We can observe also the cultural conditioning that effects some listeners in their choices as they identify with certain musical styles, often to the exclusion of others.  The same set of expectations for what defines "music" is in play; classical music and jazz, for example, along with country music and blues, share the aforementioned elements in varying degrees.

While these elements, those of instrumentation, repetition, and rhythmic pulsation may be utilized in the creation of ambient music, they are not essential to it.  Yet the nature of the ambient style, which complements moods and atmospheres and times of day given to activities unburdened by stress and frenetic pace, can be enjoyed by anyone who experiences it in such a context.  In form and function, it is not unlike a kind of audio impressionism, expressionism, or pop art.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Vision and Sound

A perception of the atmosphere of an environment is the result of the setting, its contents and surroundings.

Certainly atmospheres are imprinted with the human touch, contributing to emotional states of being associated with various settings.    The imprint of Frank Lloyd Wright reflects the architect of the Fallingwater house in ways subtle as well as extravagant.  The flow, rush, and fall of the stream there generates rich and nuanced sounds, a kind of natural music.

Our own surroundings reflect attitude and mood as well, and our own choices in music form a part of the setting that has greater importance than we might think.  The touch of the creative musical artist goes far to enhance those atmospheres in which we may feel exhilarated or at ease.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sketch Music

All environments resonate with the sounds of activity.

Indoors and outdoors, sounds may be perceived to accumulate into a whole comprised of gradual but constant changes in pattern, dynamics, tone and movement.  To "sketch" such events and their transformative elements by selecting representative sounds and combining tones, repetitions and progress over time creates a form of ambience that parallels the sounds of active environments. 

A walk in the woods or down winding streets, across a park or through a public mall, up stairways, down corridors, into subway stations or out in the weather, whatever it may be, fog, noonday sun, wind on the beach-- such things form the framework of the sketch music, and the transformation of sounds reflects movement through time. 

Thank you to Mitchel Harbin for suggesting the descriptive term "sketch music" as applying to these types of transformation ambient pieces.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sensing Sounds

Popular music, in one form or another, fills so many public environments one takes little notice of it.

In the environments over which we have control, we listen to what we choose.  Much of what we listen to, even then, may be a result of cultural conditioning.  It is always possible to become more perceptive with our sense of sound, and more creative as well.