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My “New Age Music” Style

My new age music is a little different from the majority of music in the genre. Many times I have
glanced at the description of a new age album cover, tantalised by the evocative descriptions of the
music's character, such as “gentle”, “flowing”, “calming”. On listening to the music, however, it
sounds more like “elevator musak”; it is so shallow it washes over one's head. Music for
accompanying meditation, Qigong and similar activities should flow through you not over you. It
should go deep inside and pass into the chakras / maridian channels. New age and healing music is
like food; we eat not because it tastes nice but because it nourishes the whole body. Similarly, truly
healing music must be good for the whole body, not just sound nice on the ears.

Philosophical influences
I have been a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner for most of my adult life. Taoism and Eastern energy
systems in particular interest me. I also have a keen interest in the general esoteric nature of music,
including Hermetic and metaphysical systems and the teachings of Plato and Pythagoras on music.

Musical Influences
Welsh chapel hymns; my grandfather was a choirmaster and composer of hymns so from from an
early age I was engrossed with the particular melancholy charm of four-part harmony. This gave
me an appreciation of the emotional depth of music.

New age electronica. Landscape electronic pads providing feeling of depth and distance, other-
worldliness, expansion of consciousness and other-worldliness.

Minimalism; the circular nature of patterns (like the Chinese Wand Qigong exercises) where the
energy from the music does not dissipate but is re-circuited round the body.

My new age music has a quality difficult to define in words; it is a sense of uplifting heroism, an
aural greatness; an unfolding drama seems to be in progress; an expression of the “wider picture”;
the greater universe beyond our human world; the “broad canvas” or “big idea”. Yet is also
provides the listener with deeply emotional and psychological “gates” to uplift the spirit, opening a
window to look beyond the physical world.
The three distinctive characteristics of my new age music are:
1. A prevalence for spine-tingling, gorgeous chord progressions.
2. Warm and sonorous (major or minor) circular chords sequences.
3. Simple, plaintive non-obvious melodic lines.

The dramatic and emotional effects of simple melodic lines against static chords or slowly-moving
basic progressions hold a particular fascination for me. A simple musical sequences can be
dramatically transformed and made more evocative if played by an instrument with a unique and
haunting timbre and tone. This is the basis of my new age music; to present simple themes and
chord progressions as textural soundscapes. The listener is invited to languish over chords and
melodies and savour the sonority and `tone colour' of the piece.

Psychological effects of new age music on the listener and feelings that certain techniques may
arouse:-

Static chords or slow moving chord progressions - - stability, security, peace

Major / minor chord progressions - - - - - - - - - - - - uplifting, movement into another space and
change for the better

"wide" pads, distant strings & word-less choirs - - - - distance, opening other dimensions

Drones and deep chords of 4th & 5th intervals - - - - -grounding, security and protection

I find that with new age music in general “moves” too much; there is too much going on; too many
chord changes and modulations. Also, the frequent use of percussion is particularly unwieldy and
unnecessary. My advice to new age music composers is do not be frightened to stay still, to be the
centre of the universe; do not rush, do not use too complex forms or patterns. “Busy” and “clever”
music may be academic but has little soul or heart. I believe that we must return to simplicity to
experience the true beauty of music.

© 2009 by Michael Davies