Hug + Sound
I recently got curious about the sort of albums that were associated with the term 'ambient'. After a quick search I decided to go through Album Of The Year's 2018 'best of' list. When I got to #3 (Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto) I struggled to find the particular track. A couple of clicks later I ended up listening to the score of 'The Revenant'.
Having not seen the film, I found myself being quite open to those pad-like sounds (not having the liner notes available --- I'm going to take a stab that it's actually an orchestra responsible for that) of the first track even with the absence of imagery to hold my attention. Then looking through the track list, I noticed that there are three more variations of the theme.
How far can a piece be broken down until it's morphed into one completely different one? For the theme, It's those two notes that are first piped through in the first track that helps my brain go: 'ah...that's the theme!'.
Interestingly, one of the theme variants has the word 'atmospheric' and the notes become clearer as the violin becomes the focus. Would this be considered a memorable track? I think so. I probably would remember it for awhile.
With all 'swell' things concerned...one film score I do closely align with the term is 'Inception' --- I don't know why I'm expecting a track called 'Cobb's Theme'. Maybe it's all those writing exercises I've been doing? What I do associate with the film is that cross between the sound design for the Dolby animation (the one you get when you load up a Blu-Ray or DVD) and the honking of heavy duty trucks. I discovered that it can be found at the end bit of track #6 ('528491') and until now...I thought it was just basically sound design (or purely Foley work) when I came across it in the film's teaser and trailer.
Am I close to a definition of 'ambient music'? I don't think so. It's as general as the term 'music'. In a sense that the listener gets to decide what tracks they'd put with it. If you were to ask me to put tracks in an 'ambient playlist', I'd probably split it up in different categories: 'Meditative Ambient', 'Motivational Ambient', 'Dark Ambient'....and the thread that connects all the tracks is that it is there to accentuate the scene. Whether it's something to accompany the imagery playing in my head when I re-read 'Blink' or other options if I was asked to suggest tracks to compliment footage.
How about you? What would your definition of 'ambient' sound like?
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