Re: encouraging polemics and reflection...

Subject: Re: encouraging polemics and reflection...
From: DC Mckinnon (
Date: Tue Feb 09 1999 - 10:25:47 EST

On Mon, 8 Feb 1999, Thorin Kerr wrote:

> In defence of Brian.
> weren't interested in producing pop music. These days however the
> distinction between 'electro-acoustic' and 'ambient music' is,
> frankly, slight. I suspect - whatever your views on Eno or 'ambient' -

There are specific musical objects which do erase or come close to
erasing the distinction between EA and ambient - one could ally Eno's
music with works produced with early granular synthesis technology for
example; but on the whole the two do remain very distinct.

Ambient music is built upon a high degree of redundancy - once there is a
low degree of redundancy in ambient music it can no longer function
ambiently because it demands a different mode of cognition - a more
active one in which attention must be paid to change and the way in which
change is articulated i.e within shorter spans of time than in ambient music.

Ambient music tends to remain tied to what Wishart calls the musical
'lattice' - the stratification of pitch and time into the heirarchies of the
chromatic/diatonic and metric-rhythm systems. Eno's music is very
diatonic whereas the same degree of diatonicism is not found in Bayle's
music - even though it often exhibits a high level of harmonicity.

Much EA is 'continuum' based - freed from a stratification of pitch/time
- which is not to say that the continuum based music does not make use of
the lattice (and vice versa): a good example would be Dhomont's Novars -
which revolces around a central pitch (pitches? - E and D?).

The distinctions do become less strong in the case of EA music which
makes use of 'found objects' - Normandeau's Memoire Vive for example.
In such cases there is not only a shared methodology but also a basic
structural similarity - both Memoire Vive and Eno's work finds it genesis
within the musical lattice.

This isn't to devalue ambient music but simply to say I believe the two
are distinct and that it is the qualities which distinguish them from
that interest me rather than the qualities which relate them.

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