New Age music and song is finding its way into our hearts and minds as we get ever closer to a better understanding of the genre and its intention to imbue the listener with peace, tranquility and relaxation.
Defining New Age Music
Some define this genre of music and song as spiritual and it is often used for meditation, in yoga and during massage therapy. In most instances, it is used to help combat stress and anxiety, creating a more peaceful and harmonious atmosphere in homes and in offices.
Mike Oldfield’s album, Tubular Bells, was one of the first albums to actually be spoken about in the genre ‘New Age Music’ and Enya (Sheperd Moons) has since been one of the forerunners of vocal music in this category and an artist that is still widely acclaimed in this genre. Others worth listening to in this genre, but recognised as ‘pop’, are Tori Amos and Alpha Wave although they each have their own distinctive voice.
Why is this type of music becoming so popular?
The reason New Age music is increasing in popularity is that it relies on repetitive melodies and is modal, often including a drone bass and a host of non western acoustic instruments like lutes, harps, hammered dulcimer, spike fiddle, drums, vertical flute and double reed instruments.
Many of the vocal versions of this style of music stem from lyrics based on mantras, chants, legends and mythology which also ties in to the influence that new age gaming is having on our entertainment choices.
Many musicians within this genre impress on their audiences that their music is supported by their spiritual beliefs and, in this world, many in their audiences are only too eager to embrace the spiritual beliefs along with the music as it uplifts and sustains them in peace and harmony.
What is it all about?
The term ‘New Age’ music stems from a lack of definition by retailers in this sector of classical, instrumental, chill out and ambient music and can often include well defined music such as flamenco guitar and composers like Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and Sandeep Khurana, Yanni and Mike Oldfield.
A sub category of this type of music is Spiritual music and within this sub category lays whale sounds, chants, meditation, healing and relaxation. Artists enjoying great popularity within this sub category include Krishna Das, Deva Premal and Miten and Snatam Kaur.
Where did this style of music come from?
In the late sixties and early seventies a number of musicians released works based on electronics using synthesizers and other electric instruments. It was an experimental phase but one which laid the foundations for what we now recognise as New Age music genres.
While the definitive descriptive label is yet to be found for many of the sub categories of this genre, another term coined is ‘contemporary instrumental’ music.
Adding Vocals to contemporary instrumental music
Initially such music and compositions could be as long as half an hour and purely instrumental which is why they suited massage treatments and meditation. Now, this genre of music has embraced voice as an instrument and the length of the compositions is much shorter and sometimes arranged in albums covering a particular topic eg: Deva Premal & Miten’s tribute to the survivors the Japanese earth quake earlier this year – In the Light of Love
The genre itself is still relatively new but gaining in impetus as our collective desire to shrug off material avarice and a more spiritual mindset increases in audiences across the world.