Ambient as a music genre
Ambient is a genre of music, defined by fairly wide boundaries. So it includes a number of different styles: jazz, electronic music, new age, rock and roll, modern classical music, reggae, folk and even noise. The main features of this genre are considered to be lightness and atmospheric sound.
Firstly, the term “ambient” was used by Brian Eno in the late 1970s. Eno tried to describe music that literally enveloped the listener without attracting attention.
Eno’s career began in the Roxy Music rock band, where he was a synthesizer and “treatments”. However, in the middle of 1970s, he decided to move away from rock and started his own solo projects, the characteristic feature of which was a lot of experiments with a sound. Brian Eno is considered to be the father of ambient music.
He was inspired by the street noises he listened to. Eno himself decided to reproduce something similar to everyday palette of sounds and record the results on the disc. To that end, he had to make some technical tweaks.
The Discreet Music, released in 1975, is considered to be the first full-fledged solo ambient album of Brian Eno. And that’s when a musician formulated the concept of a new genre. The essence of this musical direction is that it implies unobtrusive melodies that the listener can equally listen carefully and ignore. This music is performed in shops, banks and other public institutions to create a cozy background. Such music is unfocused and scattered. And it is perceived by the human ear.
The main musical genres are very versatile, and they consist of many sub-genres. Ambient is not an exception. It is divided into:
- Ambient house (feature – atmospheric music used on discos);
- Ambient techno (features – the average tempo of a song, enveloping sound and the use of new drum machine Roland TR-808);
- Ambient industrial (feature – gloom and occult themes, in some cases);
- Dark ambient (the heir of Ambient industrial, features – monotonous music, its repeatability and a lack of conspicuous details. Also it uses repeated samples of the clapping noise and other effects, which generate tension);
- Drone ambient (features – vibration, frequent change of tempo, low-frequencyhumming, resonances and other non-standard techniques of sound recording)
- Dungeon synth (this subgenre is similar to Dark ambient, but it has intentional bad recording quality).
Ambient compositions are often used in movie soundtracks due to their stylistic features. Such background music is a good opportunity to give a special atmosphere to cinematic scenes.
However, ambient never became a commercially successful genre. Critics of the genre criticized it for excessive boring and intelligence. Ordinary listeners are kept away from it because of excessively long compositions, the lack of familiar melodic structures and vocal performance.