Artists & Bands performing music of style «New Age Tone Poems»

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One of ambient music's prime sources is the classical avant-garde. Among the pioneers were two late-19th Century composers, Claude Debussy and Erik Satie. Satie's concept of "furniture music" for solo piano or small ensembles now seems surprisingly congruous with Eno's concept of ambience: creating a sound environment that complimented the surrounds rather than intruded upon it. More musically direct but just as subtle and suggestive was the work of Debussy, who's wandering, impressionistic tone poems like "Prelude To The Afternoon Of The Fawn" (1894) heralded a new openness in Western music and broke all kinds of rules in structure and linear composition.

By the middle of the 20th Century the American composer John Cage had blown stuffy notions of "proper" music right out of the water. He pre-empted world music with pieces that evoked the sounds of Africa, India and Indonesia; he invented and composed for the 'prepared piano' with objects stuck in piano wires to create Asian-like tones and percussive textures; and he outraged and perplexed his audiences with collisions of randomly created noise and, most infamously, his piece "4'33" which challenged listeners to consider silence as a perfectly valid form of musical expression.

After Cage, the floodgates opened. The 1960's saw the rise of a school of American composers with classical backgrounds who became known as the minimalists. They took the idea of repetition and explored it over long distances, whether with orchestras, organs, electric instruments or non-Western instrumental combinations. In turn minimalism was to inform music as diverse as Krautrock, techno and new age and relaxation music. It was also during the 60's that non-Western sounds and modes of composition seeped into classical, jazz and popular music to an unprecedented degree. And German composer Karl Stockhausen further explored Cage's tape experiments with his radical tape collages, a precursor to modern digital sampling.

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