Ambient

"The cusp between melody and texture." —Brian Eno

Ambient music is usually minimalistic, attempting to stir up a certain atmosphere or imagery to the listener. The instruments used are mostly of an electronic nature such as synthesizers, samplers and drum machines. However more traditional instrumentation is also prevelant among artists.

Its understated nature and tendency to evoke positive feelings in a listener make it very popular during relaxation and as feel good inspiration. Its darker side is also useful in creating tension and underlying emotion in TV and film. Subtle unsettling scores can make all the difference in keeping your audience on edge whilst not overpowering the scene.

The origins of the music can be seen as beginning just before and after the first World War alongside art movements such as futurism which emphasized less traditional experimentation in music. One of the pioneers was composer Erik Satie, whose minimalistic atmosphere pieces were downgraded during his lifetime, but after his death became Vindicated by History as being way ahead of their time. They were a huge inspiration to ambient music. According to That Other Wiki, Brian Eno actually coined the term "Ambient Music" during the 70's. He once described the music as capable of being:

"Actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener".

A statement that nicely sums up why it can be engaging for some and simply background music for others.

It may be worth noting that Eno credits Miles Davis' "He Loved Him Madly", off 1974's Get Up With It, with inspiring several of his ambient albums.

Certain subgenres of Alternative Rock draw influences from ambient music, such as Dream Pop and Slowcore/Sadcore. Drone Metal may also be considered to be influenced by ambient music, and there is an entire subgenre of Black Metal also influenced by ambient music, appropriately called "Ambient Black Metal".

Sub-genres include:

  • Ambient House
  • Ambient Industrial
  • Black Ambient
  • Dark Ambient
  • Drone Ambient
  • Isolationalism
  • Lowercase

Examples of Ambient Artists/Works: