Author Topic: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music  (Read 2780 times)

Bill Binkelman

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2013, 11:07:20 AM »
While not defending the glaring omissions and missing research, our kind of music is
hard to find in the UK.  There was no national radio broadcast or station playing
ambient, space, or electronic music.  I only learnt of Messrs Roach, Rich, Stearns...
when I came to work in the US in 1999 and a friend pointed me to Hearts of Space.
Internet radio has helped, but mostly if you already know the music exists.  There's no
equivalent of Hearts of Space.  I wish it could be syndicated to the BBC Radio or
Classic FM.  Yes John Peel did introduce we Brits  (me included) to Tangerine Dream,
but that was forty years ago.

Are there any good writers out there in ambientland who could write a more
comprehensive history of ambient or electronic music?

Well, if pressed and allowed to spend a year or so doing intensive research, with a decent advance from a publisher to cover some needed expenses (not a king's ransom), yeah, I could write a much better history of the genre, IMNSHO (not so humble indeed, probably). Look, I can grant you that the guy maybe doesn't have knowledge of "non-UK" or "non-European" ambient, but that doesn't excuse him presenting himself as a genre expert when he clearly is not. I am not an "expert" but I damn sure would do some extensive research before making it appear that I WAS one. And when one makes a presentation with the words "history of..." in its title, I'd either make sure I KNEW the history of whatever I claimed to know OR I would change the title to "MY history of..." or "An abridged history of..." or "A European history of..." Not knowing about Hearts of Space (really???? unless one lives in the bush or way upriver on the Amazon or in the outback), how hard would it be to find out about Hearts of Space?

OTOH...playing devil's advocate to my own diatribe above...I just Google'd "ambient music labels" and came up with the wikipedia entry, which (while including both Hypnos and Lotuspike) omits Hearts of Space and Spotted Peccary (although it does include Valley Entertainment which DOES own the HOS catalog, but how many non-insiders KNOW that?). So, while I still do not excuse his many and serious omissions, I do start to understand what some of you are saying. Still, it does represent a certain ethnocentric (from a musical standpoint) viewpoint to not do a serious exploration of the GLOBAL existence of the genre, e.g. finding out about all the great stuff through the years that has been put out by Artemiy Artemiev's label, Electroshock, which wikipedia also ignoes (I assume he likewise missed them, but TBH, I haven't even watched the video yet).

So, while I appreciate what drkappa says when he states "...our kind of music is hard to find in the UK" I simply don't think that is a valid excuse for his ignorance. Just my two cents.
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Scott M2

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2013, 09:48:54 PM »
Dear Bill -

#1) I don't "think" Wikipedia actually ignores things - you can add things that you detect are missing (until some bozo deletes or rearranges it, of course) and you are exactly the kind of expert (through experience) that Wikipedia needs to help update it.

#2) However I would not want such activities to derail you from the very holy quest of writing a more inclusive and definitive ambient tome.

#3) I imagine finding your publisher could be the biggest barrier - but you've lived through the main ambient years, were deep in the scene covering the ambient beat in Wind and Wire genuinely discovering, listening and writing. You've already interviewed key individuals and built relationships for further questioning. I imagine that you'd be comfortable quizzing other experts like Stephen Fruitman or Alan Lockett for leads on various current edges of ambient (unless they're writing competing books - which would be a dream bonanza for the ambient world).

#4) Such a book would be a lasting work - outliving the ephemeralities of websites - even when it becomes an electronic publication.

#5) I truly look forward to reading YOUR book!

Sincerely,
Scott

chris23

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2013, 08:41:26 AM »
I would happily purchase a book titled "Bill Binkelman's Non-Authoritative Reflections on Ambient Music and its History."

Bill Binkelman

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2013, 11:36:34 AM »
Scott and Chris,

I am flattered by your faith in me, but I only said I COULD do it and that it would take a lot of time, research, and money as well to pay for all the many recordings I would need to hear in order to fill in my gaps, as well as purchase any reference materials I would need. I have not followed ambient hardly at all since 2008, so I would have a lot of catching up to do. Believe me, I have toyed with the idea of a book, even a very informal one (most likely a collection of essays), but I would have to be ready to devote a lot of time to it and at this point in my life with all that's going on, that's not going to happen any times soon, unless something changes. But if it does ever start to even remotely materialize, I will be sure to write something here about it.

My main point was that I would approach it knowing my limitations of knowledge and be sure to address those limitations either by working to increase my knowledge OR acknowledging that the book had severe limitations. Also, not trying to sound TOO arrogant (LOL) but I know I can write as well as the next guy, too. So, it would, at the least, prove to be an entertaining thing to read (I hope).

Geez, now y'all got me thinking about this...thanks a lot!  :-[
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2013, 01:51:06 PM »
I think an American ambient history would be an interesting read and I sense there is quite a lot that is different in the evolution of ambient music on both sides of the atlantic.  Im not saying that there is better ambient music produced here, thats not the case but rather cultural and more importantly geographic inspired music that perhaps sets it apart for good of bad. 

Is there a direct line that can be traced from "the dawn of ambient music with....eno, (experts please chime in here fore historical accuracy) to its contemporary creation here in America 2013.  Most likely, yes, however I sense quite a departure in the music of Roach, Rich & Stearn's that seems to me to be a direct and unique reflection of our "space" that is this huge continent of vast beauty.

I realize Im not actually saying much because it could take a whole book to actually come to any conclusions
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 01:56:51 PM by Julio Di Benedetto »

Bill Binkelman

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2013, 03:58:19 PM »
The only way to approach a comprehensive "history" of the genre is to (a) look at it from a global perspective and (b) remove the limitations of what constitutes the genre. I can't begin to count the number of Internet arguments over "ambient doesn't have beats" "oh yes it does." I find it more than a little funny that those who claim ambient can't have beats seem to have no problem with placing SAW II in a top ambient of all time list. Anyway, my point is that any book I would undertake would include not just Eno-derived works and the various rhythmic ambient offshoots, but also the cross-pollination with both spacemusic (Serrie, Tyndall, Braheny, et al.) and "new age" (i.e. artists like Story and O'Hearn whom most "ambientists" don't recognize as ambient). The book would probably best be structured as (1) first a brief pre-history of the genre, which would mention Satie, et al., (2) a brief chronology of the history of ambient recordings starting in, I would guess, the 60s, (3) a section of the book detailing the different global approaches to the genre, (4) a look at crossover genres (see above) and (5) essential artists and recordings (basically "if you want to start an ambient collection, here are the albums you need to get). Finally, the last section would probably be devoted to the surge of popularity of netlabels, download only releases, and the "future" of the genre. This section would almost certainly be comprised heavily by interviews with notables in the scene, such as Mike G and other label heads, as well as noted critics, Lockett, etc.  Of course, one cold also get into a history of the electronic side of the music, i.e. how the first synthesizers came about, their development, sequencers, the digital revolution, laptop and glitch, etc. But, shit, that could a volume all by itself, so it would have to be, at best, a cursory overlook, IMO.

You start to see why this would be a massive undertaking if the author had any intention of posturing the book as either a history or comprehensive. It may make a lot more sense to do a collection of essays, kinda like the two Lester Bangs books, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste. If THAT was the case, the essays could be a multiple author collection, featuring a number of my contemporaries and myself. I would be ideally suited to address the cross-over genres, as I'm sure others would be better with contemporary ambient, the history of netlabels, etc. The only problem with this approach (and it is the ONLY problem I can think of) would be that the reader would be confronted with VASTLY different writing styles. Just compare my style with Alan L and Darren B and you see what I mean. OTOH, my style meshes nicely with John Shanahan (Hypnagogue) whom I think would be a great person to bring into this IF it ever reached the actual planning stages, as well as Phil Derby (the perfect person to chronicle Berlin EM). Another obvious person to include would be Richard G and others who contribute reviews here and elsewhere. The logistics might be problematic, i.e. deadlines, etc. But that would be the domain of the book's editor.

Hoo boy...I am putting way too much work into this!

That's how I would see it, at least.
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2013, 05:03:39 AM »
What your laying out is a really interesting approach Bill......I could see different authors writing about various aspects of ambient music and still keep the historical timeline.  It certainly would easy the mammoth undertaking for one individual.  Sounds exciting....when will you begin ;)

judd stephens

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2013, 08:04:29 PM »
Assuming he did mention certain classical musicians as a starting point, I'd be surprised if nowhere was it mentioned about the influence that Eastern music must have had on a lot of the pioneering and current ambient artists...

hdibrell

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Re: Mark Prendergast lecture at AMBIcon on History of Ambient Music
« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2013, 09:01:16 PM »
Wow! Now I'm getting excited. Where can I pre-order?   ;)
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