BEEP discografie entry for Discreet Music
Discreet Music
Brian Eno

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Year: 1975
Categorie: Solo/Ambient (Obscure)
Cover Art Credits:
The Cover Photograph 
Is From A Video By 
Brian Eno
Producer info:
Brian Eno
Recording Location info:
Trident Studios, London, 
September 12, 1975
Catalog info:
CD:  Eegcd 23
     Virgin 258 522
LP:  Obscure Obs 3
     Eg Records Eged 23
     Antilles 7030
     Eg Records Egs 303
     Carol 1520-2
More Covers: M
1. - Discreet Music          30:35 <--  ALSO  <--  sound 
2. - Three Variations On
     The Canon In D Major
     By Johann Pachelbel
I)   Fullness Of Wind         9:57
II)  French Catalogues        5:18
III) Brutal Ardour            8:17

Additional information:
Cockpit ensemble conducted by
Gavin Bryars (who also helped to arrange the pieces)

Liner Notes:
Since I have always preferred making plans to executing them, I have gravitated towards
situations and systems that, once set into operation, could create music with little or
no intervention on my part.

That is to say, I tend towards the roles of the planner and programmer, and then become
an audience to the results.
Two ways of satisfying this interest are exemplified on this album. "Discreet Music" is
a technological approach to the problem. If there is any score for the piece, it must be
the operational diagram of the particular apparatus I used for its production. The key 
configuration here is the long delay echo system with which I have experimented since 
I became aware of the musical possibilities of tape recorders in 1964. Having set up 
this apparatus, my degree of participation in what it subsequently did was limited to 
(a) providing an input (in this case, two simple and mutually compatible melodic lines 
of different duration stored on a digital recall system) and (b) occasionally altering 
the timbre of the synthesizer's output by means of a graphic equalizer.

It is a point of discipline to accept this passive role, and for once, to ignore the 
tendency to play the artist by dabbling and interfering. In this case, I was aided by 
the idea that what I was making was simply a background for my friend Robert Fripp to 
play over in a series of concerts we had planned. This notion of its future utility, 
coupled with my own pleasure in "gradual processes" prevented me from attempting to 
create surprises and less than predictable changes in the piece. I was trying to make 
a piece that could be listened to and yet could be ignored... perhaps in the spirit of 
Satie who wanted to make music that could "mingle with the sound of the knives and forks
at dinner."

In January this year I had an accident. I was not seriously hurt, but I was confined to 
bed in a stiff and static position. My friend Judy Nylon visited me and brought me a 
record of 18th century harp music. After she had gone, and with some considerable 
difficulty, I put on the record. Having laid down, I realized that the amplifier was s
et at an extremely low level, and that one channel of the stereo had failed completely. 
Since I hadn't the energy to get up and improve matters, the record played on almost 
inaudibly. This presented what was for me a new way of hearing music - as part of the 
ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of the rain 
were parts of that ambience. It is for this reason that I suggest listening to the 
piece at comparatively low levels, even to the extent that it frequently falls below 
the threshold of audibility.

Another way of satisfying the interest in self-regulating and self-generating systems is 
exemplified in the 3 variations on the Pachebel Canon. These take their titles from the 
charmingly inaccurate translation of the French cover notes for the "Erato" recording of
the piece made by the orchestra of Jean Francois Paillard. That particular recording 
inspired these pieces by its unashamedly romantic rendition of a very systematic 
Renaissance canon.
In this case the "system" is a group of performers with a set of instructions - and the
"input" is the fragment of Pachebel. Each variation takes a small section of the score 
(two or four bars) as its starting point, and permutates the players' parts such that 
they overlay each other in ways not suggested by the original score. In "Fullness of 
Wind" each player's tempo is decreased, the rate of decrease governed by the pitch of 
his instrument (bass=slow). "French Catalogues" groups together sets of notes and 
melodies with time directions gathered from other parts of the score. In "Brutal 
Ardour" each player has a sequence of notes related to those of the other players, 
but the sequences are of different lengths so that the original relationships quickly 
break down.
London, September 1975