Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Term loosely meaning background music, applied in '50s to what is called light music in UK, probably due to series of Melachrino LPs: Music For Dining, Music For Relaxation, Music To Dream By etc led to ribald suggestions for the next title in the sequence, so they called one Music For Two People Alone. Light music ran aground in the rock era, but still has fierce devotees, especially in the UK, a smaller music market than the USA and not so profitable so with more room for variety. Mood music lived on in the USA in the form of insipid piped-in music in pretentious restaurants. It used mostly strings but the best had what amounted to a symphony orchestra playing original arrangements of good songs, sometimes original tunes; Mantovani was the most commercially successful artist in the genre by a long way, but not the best by an equally wide margin. The best practitioners of light music also did film and studio work and backed vocalists on LPs and singles, incl. Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Paul Weston in the USA, Frank Chacksfield, Stanley Black etc in UK. Two Canadians were among the best: Robert Farnon is probably the most influential studio arranger in the business, and Percy Faith did beautiful work in the early '50s, until reduced by Columbia USA to attempting lush albums of Beatle and disco material. New Age (which see) and 'space music' are the mood music of today, with more pretence.