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Why ambient "music" is bad

Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 09:30:00 AM
Music is collection of sounds sentiently structured and forming a distilled interpretation, that makes you aware of feelings you have experienced before. Therefore, conducting a serene audience with nature by experiencing it first hand out in the wild is not music if it occurs that there are accompanying sounds surrounding you. Enchanting and humbling, but it isn't music.

Great composers realised this, so when Ralph Vaughan Williams created his pastoral symphony, he did not go out into the wild and just transcribe into notation the sound of the wind and the river. He would have composed what he felt, or how he interpreted the world and its "ambience".

Purveyors of ambient music get this wrong by trying to directly compose what isn't music, or in more presumptuous language, trying to replace what reality already offers.

I stood watching this view for around 20 minutes. A fluctuating drone of distant traffic was on the left. A river babbling over a fallen tree was on my right. Sparse birdsong was behind me. Sometimes a plane passed overhead, and I wondered if any of the passengers were watching this same view.

The problem of replacing nature for something humanly introspective is not only ambient music's major fault.

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 09:44:37 AM
Most ambient music is not all just sound effects.  And not all ambient music even has sound effects.  Thats my gripe with the genre, its way too large covering Mortiis to Biosphere to drone-shit, its way to big and distinctions like "dark ambient" don't really mean shit.

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 10:20:32 AM
Music is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly your average schmuck wouldnt think that the bands promoted here are "music".

Ambient requires a critical ear and patience, just like any good music.

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 01:46:27 PM
Thats my gripe with the genre, its way too large covering Mortiis to Biosphere to drone-shit, its way to big and distinctions like "dark ambient" don't really mean shit.

Exactly. But I don't see this as reason for the gripe because the same problem exists with other music genres too.

Ambient is:
- classical influenced mini suites for electronic instruments (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze)
- musical pedagogy and science intended to develop a new way of listening to sound itself (Brian Eno, Robert Fripp)
- pop oriented synthesizer music (Mike Oldfield, Steve Roach)
- punk and industrial "futurism" (Lustmord, Coil)
- house and trance music reinvented for chill out rooms (Aphex Twin, Biosphere)
- metal reinvented for classical, folk and electronic arrangements (Burzum, Lord Wind)

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 02:29:18 PM
The only ambient I have ever liked apart from Tangerine Dream has been this 20 minute piece a friend downloaded a few years ago but I can't for the life of me remember who it actually is:


Warning: you will need a large attention span for this, in order to reconcile the different parts until the conclusion.


Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 02, 2009, 04:04:41 PM
"replacing nature for something humanly introspective" -- this seems self-contradicting to me.

Sounds are just another means of composition, and can be used in ways comparable to, and in many instances more effective than conventional instrumentation (imagine the melodies from BURZUM''s Hlidskjalf on a concert grand piano).

Drone stuff like LULL, LUSTMORD, FINAL, etc: These guys focus more on atmosphere, and should not be seen as compositional - as in the style of Classical music, particularly Beethoven - but as meditative - like Tibetan Singing Bowls. I have read little about it, but isn't  the ability to dismiss attributable phenomena as having inherent character one of the goals of Zen meditation?

Personally, I don't like the drone/noise/dark ambient stuff, but here's what I recommend:

One of my favorite artists ever is MAEROR TRI. You can download their stuff here on Audiofile. I recommend Hypnotikum I, Myein, and Yearning for the Secret(s) of Nature (in that order). A group formed of two of the original three members, TROUM, is supposed to be good, but I haven't heard it.

As mentioned above, TANGERINE DREAM are also exceptional, and stuff by a former member of theirs, KLAUS SCHULZE is similar.

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 03, 2009, 08:46:38 AM
I think what Metal Power is trying to say is that good ambient music doesn't attempt to mimic the world; it expresses it poetically. This is true for classical as well, although to a smaller extent (I'm not against programmatic music, but I don't deny that the most fulfilling classical music also is abstract in nature).

You don't want to sound like the world, you want the sound to express the world. Big difference!

Re: Why ambient "music" is bad
February 04, 2009, 04:32:54 PM
Alexis, the homosexual Swede, nailed it, I think.

People who are looking for some "new way of writing music" are insane. What differentiates genres is how they poetically express an interpretation of life.

Making music without notes and chords, using sounds not notes, etc. is hipster balderdash. Homosexuals.