Emerging Forms of New Age Music

Pulse Magazine, July 1988

by Lee Underwood


Generally speaking, new age music exists on two levels: the pop level, and what we might call the contemporary classical level, with a large overlapping area in between.

New age pop does what popular music has always done. It excites and entertains us. It stimulates our emotions. It titillates our intellect. Ii uses familiar forms, scales, rhythms and sounds. It's generally cheerful in tone, positive and uplifting in mood. It doesn't depart radically from other forms of established music.

New age classical music offers something different: It's a contemporary instrumental music, deeply rooted in ancient sacred and magical East West/Third World cultural traditions, and deeply attuned with nature. It is often partially or wholly improvised in the present, and philosophically oriented toward a future in which all peoples of our globe can live together in mutually cooperative harmony. It utilizes modem electronic and acoustic instruments, often in conjunction with ancient multi-cultural folk instruments. It's vocals, rarely used, often consist of non-verbal chants. Many new age compositions form spacious contexts, often without melody or rhythm, that provide positive, potent, unfocused environmental atmospheres in which receptive listeners can form their own images.

New age musicians often compose from psycho-spiritual states of mind resembling those experienced in meditation. Their music makes us feel good by awakening our own centers of higher consciousness. It takes us away from the busy emotional and intellectual surface of our being. It gently leads us deeply inside ourselves to' the still-point center. As we relax and resonate with the music's visionary beauty and compassion, so we resonate with these same qualities in ourselves. At it's best, new age classical music reawakens allembracing, transcendental love - for ourselves, for others, for all of nature.

New age music can be used as a kind of psychospiritual technology. It does not attack or intoxicate us. It does not drain our energy. Instead it provides emotional, psychological and spiritual nourishment. It offers peace, joy, bliss - and the opportunity for all of us to psycho-acoustically rediscover in ourselves our own highest nature.

For the first time since jazz and rock, a new genre of music has been born, and we welcome it. At it's best, new age music - in all of its formsopens the door to a better tomorrow, reminding each of us that love, empathy and compassion lead to survival, growth, self-fulfillment and the eventual realization of world peace.


Explore New Age Music on the Sequoia Records website.

on our home page