The story behind Brian Eno‘s Discreet Music is as rich and incidental as the music itself. Left bedridden by a car accident, Eno struggled to put a record of 19th-century harp music on the turntable. By the time he returned to his bed, he grew frustrated when he realized the volume was too low, and was in such a state of pain and exhaustion that he refused to get up again to change the setting. But in that moment of forced restraint Eno began to listen to the music in a new setting. His words:

“This was what was for me a new way of hearing music—as part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the lights and the sound of the rain were parts of that environment.”

What most interests me about this statement is not so much Eno’s notion of music as an element of an environment, but rather the implication that the sound and mood of rainfall are as much an instrument as any component that goes into the recording of a piece of music. Furthermore, the moment in which you listen to it is as important, or as much of an instrument, as any of the elements that go into the “finished product.”

Here’s Wikipedia’s summary, taken from a diagram in the liner notes, of Side A of Discreet Music: