Following the popularity of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) featuring noises from daily lives, such as sharpening pencils, ambient music is garnering attention again. Ambient music, which repeatedly plays seemingly disordered sounds, is differentiated from ASMR as it is musical creations. It used to be called “environment music” in Korea, which sounds rather strange, and enjoyed only by a small group of people with the perception of it being super long, boring, and experimental. However, as video platforms with unlimited playtime and the social trend for calm and comforting content have emerged, it is gaining popularity.
The first impression of ambient music is usually comforting or boring. Brian Eno who launched an album titled “Ambient 1: Music for Airports” in 1978 is the pioneer of modern ambient music. Since then, Harold Budd, Aphex Twin, and Oneohtrix Point Never among others followed his footsteps while the ambient house music variant featuring certain beats was played in the lounges of dance clubs in London.
Ambient musicians often record and use noises from daily lives or industrial sites as sources for their music. For example, Ambient music group Salamander records noises from a construction site in Seongsu-dong and bird sounds from Jamsil or Mapo and edit them using audio software Ableton Live.
Hosoo, an ambient music duo in theirs 20s who debuted last year, also says a portable recorder as their essential item. “We even record the sounds of waves and rain ourselves. We create music intuitively using software called Granular by touching an iPad with fingers,” said Byun Woong-soo and Paik Ho-hyun of Hosoo.
The advantage of ambient music, which can be misunderstood as a long sequence of noises, is unlimited potential for interpretation as it does not have specific lyrics or harmonic drama allowing each listener to feel different emotions from the same song.