Ambient composer floats away at 81

Ambient composer floats away at 81


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2021

Constance Demby, a pioneer in ambient music with several bestselling albums, has died at 81.

In recent years she lived in Spain.

Novus Magnificat was her breakthrough release.

Her ensemble partner Robert Rutman said: ‘The best way to describe our music is to call it ‘not music.’ You see, it often happens that when people hear us play, they say, either in anger or in delight, ‘That’s not music!’ It’s somewhat akin to the paintings of Jackson Pollock. When the art buffs first saw his work, with the paint drippings and all, they said, ‘That’s not painting.”



  • Roman says:

    I’ve never been interested in this kind of music and only checked her work now. Maybe it was something obvious for others, but the first thing that amazed me was that it is a live acoustic music, not some electronically generated sound (at least in most cases). Second amazing things is that she invented her own musical instruments that are actually have interesting, new and rich sound. Look:

    Sad, that I’ve learned about her art only now. I’d also like to see more her live performances, it is very interesting how they make these sounds.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Mr Rutman is right.

    And thus, there’s nothing against it and the sound patterns in the video are simply beautiful, only a bit cheap here & there.

    Comparable with this:

  • Inaustria says:

    Maybe its only me, but I find “floats away” to be pretty disrespectful.

  • drummerman says:

    I mean no disrespect to Ms. Demby, whom I’d never heard of, but I find it literally painful to listen to this type of music. An acquired taste, no doubt.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It’s not music as Mr Rutman explained, it is sound art, using musical material – major chords etc. Just listen to the patterns, don’t expect a musical narrative.

      I won’t criticize a text in Birmese that it is not English.

  • Zandonai says:

    One can always rely on SD headlines to provide a tasty daily doze of cheesecake.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Not very respectful, seems to me.

  • Dan says:

    I could definitely sit down and listen to this ambient style instead of the highly overrated neo-classical pop piano composers. Sorry to hear about her passing, and it’s probably difficult to preserve that kind of music if it’s not available as sheet music to be performed by others. Being a woman composer doesn’t make it easier.