New Age music

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At its beginnings, new age music was closely related to the New Age movement of beliefs, therefore, its contents have been constantly associated with mystical matters clearly present within the cultural movement. Today, it has become associated more with general relaxation and is taken lightly by most listeners, although a strong mystical perspective is often presented through the packaging of the music and the venues of purchase. To be specific, the mysticism present is characteristic of the 21st Century New Age movement—it draws freely from religious traditions around the world with very little deference to the clarity of the traditions' histories. This also can be applied to the music structures, instruments, and timbres. Often composers will utilize traditional instruments (or synthesized versions of them) with little relation to the musical context of their origin. For many critics, ethnomusicologists, and the like, this is the major criticism of this musical style: its vapid and potentially hegemenous appropriation of musical material and instruments.

However, the musical structures can be understood in relation to many other forms of music that are taken much more seriously. Most New Age music falls under the category of the repetitive or the static. This relates to two takes on trance music, also influenced by the music of other cultures. The Indian influenced minimalism of Terry Riley, Tony Conrad, LaMonte Young which utilized drones beginning in the Early 1960s, and also the music of Ghana (West African) derived tonal minimalism of Steve Reich. However, a more apt direct connection is with the less formal and more popularised take of Brian Eno. Also connected is the resurgence of interest in Gregorian Chant during the 1960s.

The large percentage of music described as New Age music is instrumental, and electronic, although vocal arrangements are also common. In many cases, very few acoustic instruments are used and high-quality samples are used instead. Enya, who won a Grammy for her new age music, sings in a variety of languages, including Latin, in many of her works. Medwyn Goodall, not as widely known, relies mainly on electronic keyboard effects, and includes acoustic guitar as well. Although more rock than new age in genre the 1967 successful musical Hair with its opening song "Aquarius" and the memorable line "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius" brought the "New Age" concept to the attention of a huge world wide audience. Arguably, this music has its roots in the 1970s with the works of such free-form jazz groups recording on the ECM record label such as Oregon, the Paul Winter Group, and other pre-ambient bands; as well as ambient music performers such as Brian Eno. It is often claimed that Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" was the first new age album.

Music labeled New Age often is intended to represent a vision of a better future, expresses an appreciation of goodness and beauty, even an anticipation, relevant to some event. Rarely does New Age music dwell on a problem with this world or its inhabitants and is generally apolitical; instead it offers a peaceful vision of a better world. Since most of the music is instrumental, rather than vocal, these interpretations are often left to the listener's imagination. Often the music is celestial, such as when the title names stars or deep space explorations. Ennio Morricone wrote the entire score for the movie Mission to Mars, and while the credits flash we hear All the Friends, New Age orchestral style. In addition to the name "New Age" some composers and listeners refer to the music as "Space Music." An interesting connection to make here is with other composers interested in metaphors of space, but with contrasting aesthetics such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sun Ra, and even Parliament/Funkadelic. In all cases, notions of space are related to salvation in one way or another.

The titles of New Age music are often illuminating, because the words used by the artists attempt to convey their version of truth, in a few short words. On listening to the music, one may understand the idea within the title. Examples of titles: Bond of Union, Sweet Wilderness, Shepherd Moons, Animus Anima.

Other artists and record labels related to New Age music include Solomon Keal, Windham Hill Records and Tangerine Dream

The "Concordium" utopian community in Richmond, England promoted vegetarianism in the period 1842-48. They also published two magazines - "The Heatian" and "New Age". Is it any coincidence that throughout the 1980's this style of music achieved more sales in alternative medicine shops than in music stores?

External links

  • Inner Peace Music ( - home of Steven Halpern, one of the primary originators of new age music.
  • New Age Music ( - a guide to new age musical style, including an extensive set of CD reviews.
  • New Age Music Made Simple ( - overview by Hearts of Space's Stephen Hill.
  • Solomon Keal Piano ( - home of Solomon Keal

See also

Template:Electronic music infobox ja:ニューエイジミュージック


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