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Published on March 15th, 2012 | by Alan Cross


New Music for Airports

Back in 1978, Brian Eno essentially invented ambient music while spending several months in a hospital bed recovering from a serious car accident.  The first of four such experimental albums was Music For Airports, a serious quite contemplative pieces designed to provide musical ambience without being distracting.  

He envisioned this music to be perfect for public spaces like airports.  In fact, the first place to use his music was the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Things have changed a lot since then.  A friend of my was at Pearson Airport in Toronto and emailed me that the music playing at his departure gate was the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” followed by “Bizarre Love Triangle” from New Order.  

But this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Other airports have moved beyond the non-distracting stuff and are actively using music to sell their cities.  

Chicago has jazz, blues and folk recorded by local artists at both O’Hare and Midway.  Austin’s airport has a 2,400 song playlist drawn from the local scene.  You can guess what you hear at Sea-Tac in Seattle.

Read more about this new trend in music for airports.  And then have a blissful listen to the way things used to be with Brian Eno.



About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One Response to New Music for Airports

  1. Adam findlay says:

    I LOVE ambient 1 (music for airports). Eno's knack for simplicity really is amazing, who would have thought a 20 minute track of looped piano could be so relaxing. Another artist I wouldn't have discovered without ongoing history, thanks Alan.

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