Buy Ambient Century

The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

UK Edition Release
New 2003/2009 Edition

In association with Amazon

The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

US Edition Release
New 2003 Edition
In association with Amazon


UK Edition Release
November 2000
In association with Amazon

US Edition Release
January 2001
In association with Amazon


Published by Bloomsbury Books



Press Reviews of The Ambient Century


The Times

'Mark Prendergast's highly stimulating book courses across the last century, crisscrossing happily between classical, jazz, rock and its subdivisions, charting the myriad ways composers, musicians and galloping technology have expanded our sonic horizons'


The Times [Play supplement]

'Such a wide-ranging approach makes for a wonderfully colourful alternative history that should delight and inform music-lovers of all persuasions'

Q Magazine

'Ambient Century's strengths lie in its massive scope and accessible tone'


Financial Times

'a compendious account of ambient music in the 20th century - from Gustav Mahler to French electro-pop duo Air.'


Scotland on Sunday

'a guide to the evolution of sound in the 20th century, whose key innovation - according to Prendergast - was the supplanting of traditional melody and harmony by atmospheric Ambience. Examining major figures in orchestral and electronic music, jazz and rock, he makes a persuasive case.'


GQ Magazine

'Clocking in at almost 500 pages, this is an aspirant, exhaustive work on the nebulous ambient-music genre. It's essentially a series of mini-profiles on everyone from Mahler to Air, providing excellent CD wish-lists... an excellent bluffer's guide to characters like La Monte Young and (rather breathlessly) the author's own hero, Brian Eno'


BBM (Bassline and Blank Magazine)

'a stonker of a coffee table wonder. ... this book has real class and it'll teach you a thing or two if you have the determination and staying power.'



'what Prendergast describes is a fascinating musical journey which, in the course of a century fuelled by technology and mass consumption, has moved from composers to non-musicians, from strict rules to anything goes and from sheet music to the sample.'


Entertainment Weekly

'a 498-page opus that covers everything from Erik Satie's minimalism to the Chemical Brothers' rock-techno and Goldie's trip-hop. Erring on the side of inclusion, Prendergast ventures down side streets as varied as the Beatles' recording techniques and pioneer Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos' sex-change operation.' (Evan Serpick)


Kirkus Reviews (New York)

'A vast and cogent treatment of the sound that changed the way we experience music ... The author tells his history through brief but information-laden vignettes of notable composers, musicians and musical trends, each of which is followed by a particularly helpful list of important works available on CD ... remarkably he keeps the flow of information bracing and keen ... An exceptional piece of music history that will be as mightily thumbed by fans of Ambient music as the Physicians Desk Reference by hypochondriacs.'


Library Journal (New York)

'Here, Irish music critic Prendergast makes an admirable and largely successful attempt to build bridges between the worlds of contemporary classical and rock music ... Prendergast has an astonishing grasp of the global scene in popular music and writes with authority and conviction. Despite its flaws, this is an important addition to libraries with holdings in cultural and popular studies.' (Larry Lipkis, Moravian College Bethlehem, PA).


The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)

Britney Spears move over, there's a new sound in town that is quirky, soothing, melodramatic and monochromatic; it's electronic and it's cool! Prendergast gives an interesting history of electronic music and its change from age to age.'


Kansas City Star

'Veteran music journalist Mark Prendergast had his work cut out for him in The Ambient Century - a book which fuses musical fragments and explains how artists as divergent as Gustav Mahler and Madonna could have common ground. The diffuseness of the writing mimics the swirling atmospherics of Ambient music itself. You don't 'read' The Ambient Century; you sink into it like mist - or perhaps it sinks into you ... The Ambient Century does what the best music books should do, it makes you hungry to hear the notes again. Turn on your reading lamp and put on your headphones.' (John Mark Eberhart, Apostles of Ambience)


The Boston Globe

'One of the joys of this book is the thread of musical discovery woven under the surfaces ... Prendergast's chronicle of rock and techno - from U2 to William Orbit, Massive Attack, Radiohead even Madonna belies the notion that Ambient music is only for the head and not the body ...Prendergast does Ambient music justice by insisting it has intellectual content, not kissing it off as synthesizer noodling.' (John Mark Eberhart, Mahler To Eno: Ambient music explored)