Brian Eno’s Scape

by: Emily Kirkpatrick

October 15, 2012

Brian Eno, the man principally responsible for the creation of ambient music as a genre, has released along with software designer Peter Chilvers a new app for iPad called Scape. According to Eno, Scape will revolutionize the concept of an album, which is nothing but a “historical blip.” Eno sees Scape as a meeting point between the historically transient and ephemeral state of music and our present age of perfectly recorded musical replication.

Brian Eno Scape iPad app

Scape is a partially self-generating music app that allows the user to choose from a variety of screens, moods, and objects, each of which produces a predetermined unique sound in a particular rhythm that changes unpredictably in relation to the other objects and different themes cast over it. Scape creates ambient music that is partially controlled and structured by the user and partially left up to random chance.

The app comes pre-loaded with an album of scapes already created by Eno and Chilvers, more as a point of inspiration and to demonstrate the capabilities of the application rather than an attempt to revive the dying medium of records, which Eno says will, “continue to exist because ideas never go away but they’ll become much less central. They’ll not be seen as the center of music-making.”

Scape is entertaining in it’s unpredictability; the songs you create will never have the driving, formulaic bass of a pop song, or the electronic wails of dubstep, but are, rather, constantly changing echoes reacting to the amalgamation of your choices. As Chilvers puts it, “You’ve not just got every track, you’ve got every instrument on that track and, really, every musician playing them. Every piece in Scape is really like a collection of musicians playing together and they’ve got their own rules.”

Chilvers and Eno’s Scape is an intelligent, ever-changing app that becomes addictive as you attempt to discover the effects of every object, mood, and palette in all of their various combinations and juxtapositions. Scape may not be a ground-breaking approach to creating, recording, and sharing music, but it certainly offers a unique, thought-provoking approach to song making that is part you, part compounded accident, and a whole lot of fun.

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