Is New Age Meditation Really Meditation or is it Therapy?
A comprehensive review of the literature suggests that traditional meditation techniques strongly discourage the incorporation of music. The idea of listening to music while meditating is a recent concept that probably stems from the fact that alternative medicine practitioners often used relaxing background music when servicing a client. This music subsequently became known as “meditation music.”
For those who are interested in beginning to practice meditation but not ready to commit to the rigors of traditional systems, there is an alternative. It is called “New Age Meditation”. New Age Meditation is an overall up-dated version that contains elements of Eastern Philosophy mixed with Western culture and New Age Music.
Why does New-age Music lend itself for use in this non-traditional form of meditation? In the beginning much of the music produced was closely related to the New Age movement of beliefs and subsequently became associated with mystical matters (1). Over time its slow tempo became associated with meditation, massage, yoga (2) and stress management (3). As one listens to the music one becomes aware of its repetitive themes and simple chord structures that avoid the use of altered chords found in jazz or blues (4). It may be influenced by minimalism and trance music from other cultures.
Much new-age music is instrumental and electronic. It may rely on sustained synth pads or long sequencer-based runs, and acoustic forms (1). Acoustic melodies may include nature sounds or modal harmonies. It is defined more by the feelings it produces rather than the instruments being played. Most of it is suitable for general relaxation or to assist in setting the stage for deep meditation. The track below is a sample suitable for meditation from Daniel Kobialka’s Wonder of Sound‘s “Timeless Motion“, available from most retailers or his website: www.wonderofsound.com.
There are numerous choices with regard to the use of instruments or synthesizers with or without natural sounds. Soothing instrumentation is achieved with classical guitar, violin, or harp. Compositions recorded with real instruments can be written for specific therapies and forms of meditation.
All this being said, it is important to note that throughout history, many composers have written relaxing music. Among these are Johann Sebastian Bach, Woflgang Amadeus Mozart, Felix Mendelssohn and Claude Debussy. Everything old is new again! Listen to Daniel Kobialka’s rendition of Lullaby at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-qaEwGjlW8
2. New-age music (http://www.allmusic.com/explore/genre/d117) . Retrieved 05/08/13.
3. Lehrer, Paul M., David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, Wesley E. Sime (2007). Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition. New York: Guilford Press. Pp. 46-47.
4. Garland, R. How to Play New Age Music. http://www.ehow.com/how_5763790_play_new-age-music.html. Retrieved 05/08/14.
5. What goes into Composing Good Meditation Music? www.articlesbase.com/meditation-articles
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