Brian Eno is one of the pioneers of ambient music. He and Robert Fripp recorded the track The Heavenly Music Corporation on the album No Pussyfooting in 1972 by combining some experimental tape loop techniques from Eno, combined with Fripps guitar loops (called Frippertronics). No Pussyfooting is still available, and quite enjoyable. But the interesting part about it for this post concerns how it was created. Once Eno and Fripp had all the equipment set up, they started the tape loops and recorders for the background track and retired to Eno's front room and drank tea while the album recorded itself. No Pussyfooting has some early examples of generated ambient music (they were certainly not the first to experiment with generated music, but the first in a main-stream context). Eno and Fripp created several albums together. Eno has created a large catalog of ambient music (including the classic Music for Airports, recorded by several ensembles including the incredible Bang on a Can All-stars), and Fripp expanded the ideas behind Frippertronics using electronics for a stunning collections of recordings called Soundscapes.
Which brings me finally to Bloom. Bloom is an iPhone application created by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers. When you launch Bloom, it starts a gentle drone sound as a background, and gives you the option to create ambient music by tapping the screen. When you tap, a note plays based on the location of your tap. You can tap single notes or chords. After about 5 seconds, the note repeats and continues while it gently decays. Using Bloom, you can create your own ambient music. I can play with Bloom for hours. It is one of the best iPhone applications I've found: a trully innovative application that takes great advantage of the iPhone interface.
The other option when you start Bloom is for it to generate music for you randomly. That brings us back around to focus. Using Bloom, you can generate unique, non-distracting music for an entire day. Rather than buy a collection of ambient recordings, you can generate your own ambient music. Bloom lets you set several "moods", changing the tonal range and drone sounds to add just enough variety in the music to keep it just interesting enough to not distract. What used to take tons of studio equipment now runs on the iPhone. This makes a great way to help enhance your focus in noisy environments. Allow Bloom to create music for you that doesn't distract yet effectively drowns out all the other distracting sounds in your cube-ridden environment. Bloom is a great example that the iPhone isn't just another mobile device: it's a new platform for software development.