Sound Foundation

I’ve created my own dream house. No, I haven’t built a mansion, or even kept tidy a 1948 brick Cape Cod.

But I usually manage to keep music playing in our home almost continually, inspired in part by the “Dream House” concept conceived by minimalist composer La Monte Young and artist Marian Zazeela. The original “Dream House” idea was conceived in the early ’60s as a light-and-sound installation designed for musicians to live and create in 24 hours a day; it has since been revived in various forms (like the one pictured above).

Where Young uses self-created drone sounds and imagery to create an otherworldly domicile, I enact a poor man’s version: radios tuned to classical 90.9 WETA-FM and some indirect lighting. Often the volume is low, causing the instruments to blend into the house’s ambient noise, which evokes the “furniture music” theory coined by French composer Erik Satie in 1917. But the sounds are loud enough to provide a blissful welcoming to any room where I forgot the music was playing.

Brian Eno’s 1975 masterpiece “Discreet Music” was also inspired by this sort of half-listening, half-dreaming engagement with sound. I’m just happy to have a chill abode.

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