Heard “Music for Airports” in an airport?
March 23, 2007 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Anyone actually heard “Music for Airports” in an airport?

Have you ever been in an airport and, without a doubt, heard “Music for Airports” by Brian Eno playing as background music?

(There's also a mythology that the music has “long wavelengths” that somehow suit lengthy cavernous spaces, but I don't see how that's acoustically possible, unless somebody here knows about such matters.)
posted by joeclark to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No, but I have heard "Let's Go Away for Awhile" from Pet Sounds, in St. Louis.
posted by equalpants at 1:17 PM on March 23, 2007

I've long heard it was used right after he completed it, at La Guardia in the late 70s, but I have no idea how long it was used and I have no idea if the idea spread to other airports.

Wikipedia backs this up with the single mention of it being used there in NY.
posted by mathowie at 1:18 PM on March 23, 2007

In terms of audio, “long wavelength” is just another way of saying “low frequency,” as the velocity of sound [in air, at sea level, under normal atmospheric conditions] is a constant 344 m/s.

I have head Music for Airports, but never in an airport.
posted by ijoshua at 1:20 PM on March 23, 2007

Certain frequencies will resonate in certain length chambers.

f = nv / 4L would probably be the appropriate formula, n being an integer, v being 344m/s, L being the length of the closed (stopped) tube. Not exactly right, but close enough :)

Basically, the gaps in frequency will be pretty big, so frequencies will either really resonate or they won't, the lower you get. I suppose you could use this to your advantage.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:48 PM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: Yes, I suppose “Music for Airports” is actually Music for Airports, as it is an album, not a song.
posted by joeclark at 1:57 PM on March 23, 2007

I only hear staid Adult Contemporary at airports. And the occasional bit of modern top-40 pop, but only if it's as milquetoast as possible.

God, I'd love to hear Music for Airports at an actual airport.
posted by chimaera at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2007

The last time I flew, I queue it up on my iPod while I waited for a flight. It was delayed, so I got to hear the whole thing. :)

So, kinda. But no, everything is normally drowned out by those 24/7 CNN For Airports ALERT ALERT NEWS TV things. It's like Max Headroom around there.
posted by unixrat at 3:07 PM on March 23, 2007

I don't know that LAX plays music. I have never noticed any.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:13 PM on March 23, 2007

These days LGA and the other Port Authority properties (bus station) pipe in classical music. What about the psychedelic neon United tunnel at O'Hare, that seems like a great place to play it...
posted by rikschell at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

I recall reading an interview with Eno where he describes arriving at an airport and being met by some officials who had arranged to have MFA playing in the terminal. The music was playing far too loud and Eno had to instruct them to lower it, explaining how it was designed to fit into the environment, not dominate it.
posted by davebush at 3:47 PM on March 23, 2007

I actually don't think I've heard music ever at an airport, other than in the stores / McDonalds / etc.

My personal opinion is that airports don't want you to be chilled out, relaxed, or sitting around too much. They make more money if you're bored and milling around the shops buying lots of overpriced crap.. so that's where the music is played.
posted by wackybrit at 4:35 PM on March 23, 2007

Performances I know of.....

BOAC (Bang on a can allstars NOT British Overseas Air Corp) played a live version in Stansted in 1998. And, Dancefront, a Canadian public space dance company performed to a recorded version in Ottowa airport in 1996. It played for a week in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 1980. I heard was going to play at one point in Buffalo-Niagara Falls airport' terminal before its demolation for a new terminal, but i think they used another art installation of some sort.
posted by Duck_Lips at 4:46 PM on March 23, 2007

O'Hare (in Chicago) used to play it fairly continuously in the long, underground flat-escalator ridden space between the domestic and international terminals.

I'm pretty sure.
posted by ztdavis at 6:15 PM on March 23, 2007

Brian Eno also wrote the startup Windows 95 sound, and this was (is?) the sound preceding announcements at Tashkent International Airport.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:46 AM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Actually guys, I'm not sure what the music in Helmut Jahn's neon passageway is, but I"m pretty sure it's not Eno. Sorry. I recall reading in an architecture mag that the music was written specifically for United Airlines. I may be recalling incorrectly, but I don't think I am, as the song in the corridor quotes from Rhapsody in Blue (their "theme song"), and Eno does not.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:44 AM on March 24, 2007

Yes, that shimmery music in ORD's neon tunnel is definitely not Music for Airports. But while were on this subject, I was once lucky enough to attend a lecture by Brian Eno, and he said that although many might be thinking this is Music To Fly To, actually due to the contemplative nature of many passengers about the possibility that the flight they're about to board might not arrive, it's really Music To Die To.
posted by Rash at 1:32 PM on March 24, 2007

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