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Music Beyond Airports - appraising ambient music

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This collection of essays has been assembled and developed from papers given at the Ambient@40 International Conference held in February 2018 at the University of Huddersfield. The original premise of the conference was not merely to celebrate Eno’s work and the landmark release of Music for Airports in 1978, but to consider the development of the genre, how it has permeated our wider musical culture, and what the role of such music is today given the societal changes that have occurred since the release of that album.

In the context of the conference, ambient was considered from the perspectives of aesthetic, influence, appropriation, process, strategy and activity. A detailed consideration of each of these topics could fill many volumes. With that in mind, this book does not seek to provide an in-depth analysis of each of these topics or a comprehensive history of the last 40 years of ambient music. Rather it provides a series of provocations, observations and reflections that each open up seams for further discussion. As such, this book should be read as a starting point for future research, one that seeks to critically interrogate the very meaning of ‘ambient’, how it creates its effect, and how the genre can remain vital and relevant in twenty-first century music-making.

Music Beyond Airports features the following authors and essays:

Monty Adkins: Fragility, Noise, And Atmosphere In Ambient Music

Axel Berndt: Adaptive Game Scoring With Ambient Music

Lisa Colton: Channelling The Ecstasy Of Hildegard Von Bingen: “O Euchari” Remixed

Simon Cummings: The Steady State Theory: Recalibrating The Quiddity Of Ambient Music

Ambrose Field: Space In The Ambience: Is Ambient Music Socially Relevant?

Ulf Holbrook: A Question Of Background: Sites Of Listening

Justin Morey: Ambient House: “Little Fluffy Clouds” And The Sampler As Time Machine

Richard Talbot: Three Manifestations Of Spatiality In Ambient Music

David Toop: How Much World Do You Want? Ambient Listening And Its Questions

Publishing Details
Written by: Monty Adkins, Axel Berndt, Lisa Colton, Simon Cummings, Ambrose Field, Ulf Holbrook, Justin Morey, Richard Talbot, David Toop
About the author:
Monty Adkins is a sound artist, performer and lecturer in digital music. He read music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and is currently Professor of Electronic Music and head of research in the Department of Music at the University of Huddersfield. He has published articles on the aesthetics of digital music, painting and visual art, and has recorded five solo CDs of his sonic art.

Axel Berndt studied computer science and music at Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany where he also did his PhD on the musical scoring of interactive media. From 2012 he worked for three years at Technische Universität Dresden at the Media Design Group and the Interactive Media Lab where his research combined both fields, humancomputer interaction and music. In 2015 Axel Berndt moved to the cemfi (Center of Music and Film Informatics) in Detmold, Germany. At this institution, which is run collaboratively by Detmold University of Music and Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences, Berndt and his colleagues work in the fields of digital music editions, new interfaces for musical expression, live electronics, modelling and computer generation of expressive music performances, and music information retrieval and its applications in music production.

Lisa Colton is Reader in Musicology at the University of Huddersfield. Her monograph, Angel Song: Medieval English Music in History, was published by Routledge, and has been described as “a masterful account of the medieval history of English music” (Music and Letters, 2017). Lisa’s recent research has focused on analytical approaches to fourteenth-century English motets,on medievalism in the music of British composer Margaret Lucy Wilkins, and on gendered voices in early French song. With Dr. Catherine Haworth, Lisa co-edited the volume of essays Gender, Age and Musical Creativity (Routledge, 2015); a second volume of essays, entitled Sources of Identity: Makers, Owners and Users of Music Sources Before 1600 was co-edited with Dr. Tim Shephard (Brepols, 2017).

Simon Cummingsis a composer, writer and researcher based in the Cotswolds, in south-west England. He composes instrumental and electronic music, both of which focus upon gradual processes of transformation. His acoustic work involves highly intricate algorithmic processes rooted in carefullydefined behaviours, the music emerging from stochastic relationships in which these behaviours are juxtaposed and intermingle. His electronic music explores the juxtaposition of noise and pitch, reappraising what defines each and their boundaries. Cummings studied composition, conducting and organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire, at graduation being awarded the Creative Studies composition prize. Aided by a substantial grant from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Cummings undertook the Sonology and Masters degree programmes at the Institute for Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, at the same time studying privately with Richard Barrett in Amsterdam. He has recently completed a Ph.D. in composition at the Royal 10.5920/beyondairports.fulltext Birmingham Conservatoire under the supervision of Richard Causton and Howard Skempton. The primary focus of his research is the exploration and development of new algorithmic and stochastic approaches to musical composition. When not composing, Cummings is an accomplished writer about new music; he is the author of contemporary/avant-garde music blog 5:4 and contributes to assorted print and web journals.

Ambrose Field is a British composer. He is Professor and Head of Department of Music at the University of York. His music has been performed at venues such as the Vienna Konzerthaus, Chicago Early Music Festival, and Parco Dela Musica Rome. His album for ECM, Being Dufay, was a bestseller on Amazon and achieved five star reviews in BBC Music magazine and from Classic FM. Other highlights include a commission from the Polish National Chamber Choir for his work In Memoriam for H.M. Gorecki. This piece, for 25 solo voices with a Polish text, received critical acclaim in the press for a distinctive, lush sound world. Field studied Music Education at the University of Cambridge and Composition at City University, London. Whilst at City, he took Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s Ethnomusicology seminar which became an important motivation in his approach towards new music. His work has received a number of international awards, including three Prix Ars Electronica honorary mentions specifically for pieces making use of new technologies, a strand of work which resulted in a performance at the MUTEK festival in Canada with the support of Recombinant Media Labs, San Francisco. Field has served as a panellist on the British Composer Awards, on juries for contemporary music competitions internationally. At the University of York, Field has created a successful international culture through finding new links with education and industry, creating resources which have been invested in new jobs, rese

Ulf A. S. Holbrook is a composer, sound artist and doctoral research fellow at the RITMO Center for Interdisciplinary Study on Rhythm, Time and Motion, Department of Musicology, at the University of Oslo. The focus of his research is on the perception of sound objects in spatial audio representation systems at the convergence of signal processing applications and sonic creation. His research proposes the soundfield as a link between a sound object and the spatialisation of sound masses which share the same multidimensional space. His work is performed and exhibited in galleries, as well as at festivals and conferences internationally.

Justin Morey has a background in sound engineering and music production, having set up and run a recording studio in Shoreditch, London from 1995– 2003. As a co-writer and producer of dance and electronic music, he has had records released through labels including Acid Jazz, Lacerba, Ministry of Sound and Sony. He has been teaching in higher education since 2001, and has been a member of academic staff at Leeds Beckett University (formerly Leeds Metropolitan University) since 2004, where his teaching specialisms include music production, production analysis and music business. His main research interest is in sampling as a creative practice within British dance and electronic music, the subject of his PhD, which was awarded in 2017. Publications include articles for Dancecult, the IASPM Journal, and the Journal on the Art of Record Production, and book chapters for IIPC and Palgrave Macmillan.

Richard Talbot is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Liverpool. His research topic is the production and consumption of ambient music. He is also a member of Marconi Union, an ambient / electronica band who have recorded albums for a number of labels including All Saints, 30 Hertz and Just Music. Marconi Union have collaborated with a number of artists including the Marina Abramović Institute and Jah Wobble, and a recent Marconi Union remix of Max Richter was released on Deutsche 10.5920/beyondairports.fulltext Grammophon. Their music has also been remixed by Biosphere and Steve Jansen. In 2012, Marconi Union appeared at Punkt Festival curated by Brian Eno. At the same time, they achieved success with Weightless which was acclaimed as ‘’the most relaxing track ever”. This led to Marconi Union being featured as one of Time Magazine’s 2012 inventors of the year list. Weightless has now been streamed over 60 million times on Spotify and spent over a year in the top three of the Billboard New Age charts.

David Toop has been developing a practice that crosses boundaries of sound, listening, music and materials since 1970. This practice encompasses improvised music performance, writing, electronic sound, field recording, exhibition curating, sound art installations and opera. It includes seven acclaimed books, including Rap Attack (1984), Ocean of Sound (1995), Sinister Resonance (2010) and Into the Maelstrom (2016), the latter a Guardian music book of the year, shortlisted for the Penderyn Music Book Prize. Briefly a member of David Cunningham’s pop project The Flying Lizards in 1979, he has released thirteen solo albums, from New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Sound Body on David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label (2006) to Entities Inertias Faint Beings on Lawrence English’s ROOM40 (2016). His 1978 Amazonas recordings of Yanomami shamanism and ritual were released on Sub Rosa as Lost Shadows (2016). Major sound art exhibitions he has curated include Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery, London (2000) and Playing John Cage at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (2005-6). In 2008, a DVD of the Belgian film – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: A Portrait of David Toop Through His Records Collection – was released by Sub Rosa, and in 2017 his autobiography – Flutter Echo: Living Within Sound – was published by Du Books in Japan. His most recent record release is Dirty Songs Play Dirty Songs, released on Audika in October 2017. He is currently
Year Published: 2019
Date Published: 08/01/2019
Format: Digital
Pages: 234
Language(s): English
Editions: 1
Publisher: University of Huddersfield Press
ISBN10-13: 1862181616 : 9781862181618
Official Site:

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