Ambient Australia: music, meditation and tourist places
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This chapter examines how music informs the creation of tourist places in Australia. It discusses one genre-ambient music-and the way it is related to geography both symbolically (in terms of cultural representations), and literally (in terms of links to musical and touristic activities in particular towns). The rise of ambient music has contributed to the imaginative representation of a touristic Australia of "natural" physical and cultural landscapes, where indigenous people are particularly significant. Designed to encourage relaxation and even sleep, in its cover art, its sounds and lyrics (where they exist), ambient music has emphasized "special" places both generic and real, that are remote from urban centers, and physically attractive-usually involving mountains, falling or flowing water (in streams rather than rivers), rain forests, coasts, seashores and oceans, occasionally deserts, and more generally "wilderness." Ambient music is thus a means through which a very particular cultural geography of landscapes and nature is constructed and vicariously experienced. Landscapes are imbued with certain spiritual powers, or associated with animals, such as birds, dolphins and whales, regarded as having special qualities, the sounds of which are incorporated into many tracks.