"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." :: Ludwig Wittgenstein
"The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” :: Book of Habakkuk
"Music is the cup which holds the wine of silence." :: Robert Fripp
In my day-to-day life, I work with words: music is my way of keeping silence.
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I studied music composition in the late 1970s and wrote in a contemporary but very tonal style; the song cycle "In the Snow" is from that era. I was always deeply interested in music that was inherently ambient: music that "stretched time" in some way, from Erik Satie to Messiaen's "Twenty Contemplations of the Infant Jesus." Much later I discovered ambient and electronica. After hearing some pieces that used samples as their building blocks (e.g., Thievery Corporation's "2001: A Spliff Odyssey"; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Bh2VQxaj8), I became interested in creating my own sound collages: remixes, but not what most people mean by the term.
I set out to teach myself how to do this with a series of "Ambient Etudes" -- an "etude" being a "technical exercise" -- based on samples of the music of Shirley Horn. Why Shirley Horn? I love the economy and precision of her piano playing. I love her pristine chords.
I know that there are easier ways to produce this kind of music than building it up painfully out of handcrafted loops, but I don't have the money for more sophisticated programs or the patience to learn them.
I feel as if I'm working in the dark, and would appreciate hearing from other musicians who are traveling similar paths.
With some of these pieces, I am working on the answer to a question I've always wondered about: what would happen if that great chord near the end of the piece simply never ended?
Music, musicians, and composers I can't live without (a small, random sampling, in alphabetical order):
Aphex Twin, "Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2"
Claude Debussy, "Des pas sur la neige"
Global Communication, "76:14"
Kirsty Hawkshaw, "Fine Day" (the James Holden remix)
Marsen Jules, "Lazy Sunday Funerals"
Olivier Messiaen, "Regard du Père" (played as slowly as possible)
Federico Mompou, "Musica Callada"
Orbital, "Nothing Left"
William Orbit/Beth Orton, "Water from a Vine Leaf"
Hans Otte, "Das Buch der Klange"