feb 2/RUN

4.7 miles
river road trail, north/south
35 degrees

Another beautiful and disturbingly mild late morning. No snow or ice. Glancing over at the gorge, it looked like April not January. Noticed my shadow — first she was in front of me, then behind and off to the side. Heard a pileated woodpecker laughing somewhere above me. Smelled something sour just below me, near the rowing club. Almost slipped on some mud.

I thought about, and tried emphasizing, my peripheral vision as I ran. What did I see? I can’t remember.

Listened to birds and traffic and my striking feet as I ran north. Put in Jesus Christ Superstar running south.


This month’s challenge: peripheral. The first thing I did was to search through my old entries and tag any mention of the peripheral.

The next thing I wanted to do was to create a playlist of peripheral songs, like I did with windows last month, but not much was coming up — except poet-singer Fiona Apple’s excellent Periphery. So, I’m taking a different approach: peripheral music = incidental music or ambient or background music. Maybe even a movie or tv score? Erik Satie’s furniture music (I discovered this term on apple music last year when I was searching for “chill” music). Here’s something about Satie that I found:

the idea of “music to be ignored” was first articulated by Erik Satie, who wrote what he called “furniture music” (musique d’ameublement).   This was music which had no set form and sections could be re-arranged as a performer or conductor wished, much like furniture in a room, and to act as part of the ambiance or furnishings.

Antecedents of Ambient Music

As I write this, I’m listening to one of the most well-known of the background/ambient genre: Ambient 1: Music for Airports by Brian Eno. In an article about ambient music, Open Culture offers these words from Eno in an interview:

“For me, the central idea was about music as a place you go to,” he said in an interview about his recent ambient album Reflection. “Not a narrative, not a sequence that has some sort of teleological direction to it — verse, chorus, this, that, and the other. It’s really based on abstract expressionism: Instead of the picture being a structured perspective, where your eye is expected to go in certain directions, it’s a field, and you wander sonically over the field.”

Hear the Very First Piences of Ambient, Erik Satie’s Furniture Music

Yes! I love things that aren’t driven by a narrow story or purpose — no teleology — but create a place to inhabit. Poems are often described as places — a house or an open field. The idea of the eye (or the ear) wandering through a field immediately makes me think of peripheral vision — it doesn’t offer focused, detailed images, but a broader sense of the whole picture — less the trees, more the forest.

All this writing about ambient music makes me think of one of Eno’s longtime collaborators, Robert Fripp. In 2020, he released an ambient track, culled from his decades of recording, every Friday. I’m listening to a playlist of them on Apple Music right now: Music for Quiet Moments 1: Pastorale (Mendoza 3rd June 2007). I love what Fripp writes about these moments on his blog (I like the design of his blog too!)

Music For Quiet Moments…


A Quiet Moment is how we experience a moment: the moment which is here, now and available.

Quiet moments are when we put time aside to be quiet;
and also where we find them.
Sometimes quiet moments find us.

Some places have an indwelling spirit, where quiet is a feature of the space:
perhaps natural features in the landscape;
perhaps intentionally created, as in a garden;
perhaps where a spirit of place has come into being over time, as in an English country churchyard.

Quiet may be experienced with sound, and also through sound;
in a place we hold to be sacred, maybe on a crowded subway train hurtling towards Piccadilly or Times Square.

A Quiet Moment is more to do with how we experience time than how we experience sound.

A Quiet Moment prepares the space where Silence may enter.

Silence is timeless.


My own quiet moments, over fifty-one years of being a touring player, have been mostly in public places where, increasingly, a layer of noise has intentionally overlaid and saturated the sonic environment.


Quiet Moments of my musical life, expressed in Soundscapes, are deeply personal; yet utterly impersonal: they address the concerns we share within our common humanity.   

Paradoxically, they have mostly taken place in public contexts inimical and unsupportive of quiet.

Some of these Soundscapes are inward-looking, reflective.
Some move outwards, with affirmation.
Some go nowhere, simply being where they are.

Robert Fripp’s blog post

The peripheral as the space/time where these quiet moments are possible.