Music dictionaries and goals
Many years ago I had a friend from college who was a devoted evangelist of abstract artist Mark Rothko. I remember her browsing through Rothko’s catalogue of works when I thought I had aesthetic problems, I just didn’t “understand” them.
After all, most of the paintings were nothing but large rectangles of color, with small irregularities and a contrasting frame or strip. All the familiar reference points for lines and shapes, perspectives and shadows have disappeared.
I would rate them as “design”, but not as “art”. Although they were pleasant enough, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to do it because of these abstractions… until I saw them personally – a completely different experience! When I met them at the Museum of Modern Art, they literally stopped me on my paths, blew my mind and immediately threw me into a changed state.
They weren’t just flat canvases on the wall, but seemed more like living beings pulsating and pulsating into resonance to the wavelengths that had a fundamental connection to the Source of Things. I was stunned.
They didn’t “express” feelings – they were more like feelings by themselves, and they didn’t seem to me, either Rothko or anyone else personal. Later, when I looked at the reproductions of Rothko’s works in the books, they returned to flat patterns of flowers. There was a memory, but no re-creation of my experience.
Music for meditation
Some people use ambient music for meditation, and this deserves a separate discussion. Many people who are just beginning to meditate will be concerned about how much mental chatter or “noise” is generated by the “monkey mind”, which is the state of awakening of the human mind by default.
Attempts to suppress the endless flow of thoughts are not only fruitless, but also counterproductive, as they add an additional layer of mental activity. For some people, quiet, relaxing music soothes the hyperactive mind while at the same time soothing the body and inviting it into space, without requiring special techniques.
However, most of what is sold as “relaxing” music also evaporates saccharine; this, of course, does not help me to relax. For a more discerning listener, artistic value should be the criterion for “relaxing” music.
I guess I think about it too much, but for me there is a difference between “attentive” and “thoughtless” music. While department store kiosks with harp and coastal sounds can be attractive to the masses, I rarely find a lot of substance in these sound candies; there is a much better choice to create an atmosphere conducive to a relaxed and elastic mind.
Music for massage and acupuncture
Massage and acupuncture can be enhanced by music from around the world, and many of the same rules apply. I recommend that you bring your own music to these classes whenever possible. Practitioners may or may not share their taste, and there is nothing worse than listening to some terrible nonsense when trying to relax.
I’ve collected a few CDs of massage mixes, and mine generally have a shape that helps me first to calm down and relax with something calm and relax, then something more rhythmic, as the masseur works in problem areas, then, in the end, a very spacious section in which I can completely relax and let my body enjoy the effects of the massage.
This is my personal preference; if you want to make your own mix for a massage, you must find the combination that suits you.
Immersion listening – attention and process
As for where to focus on immersive listening, good ambient music offers many opportunities for penetration. If the music is based on a drone, harmonic movements are likely to be unlikely, so the ear is more likely to come into contact with texture and atmosphere.
Drones, often composed of either a primary tonic tone or a root and a fifth combined tone, fix a piece and create a background for tension and liberation of other tones, as they interchangeably detach from the drone in dissonance, or return to it in harmony.
Melodic and rhythmic components are optional elements in environmental music and usually require attention from the hearing aids if they are present. They focus on time over space, as melodic phrases resemble musical sentences, with beginning, middle and end, as well as rhythms, dividing time into periodic units.
A very melodic work requires more attention, while a purely atmospheric work may allow the listener to disappear and disappear. I love both types of ambient music, and although most of my own works are melodic, I have also created non-medical compositions.
I’ve already talked about the creative use of stereo space by composers living in an environment, and as soon as I like my listening strategy, I represent a spherical area around my ears and in front of me, where I track sounds as they arise and dissipate in that area.
The skillful use of dynamics, delay, reverberation, and equalizer allow composers to create vivid three-dimensional illusions, and as a listener I like to put the placement and movement of sound in a stereo field at the forefront as an integral part of composition.
In addition to the side-to-side placement of sound between the right and left channels, you can also listen to the “height” of sounds in the stereo field, as the ear places higher frequencies “above” and lower frequencies “below”.
You can also notice the hearing distances of sounds as some are present and approaching, while others retreat to the side. It is also interesting to note how sounds react in the imaginary space. The surrounding music is usually very much reversed, and the perceived sound container is often cave-like.
Let the ear follow the sound as it echoes in the virtual space and then gradually disappears, can create a bright mental picture of the size of the sound scene.
The surrounding music is also rich in sounds that change their tone over time, using a variety of morphing and filtering effects that turn sound into their own journey. Listening to the harmonics in sound change, especially the upper partiles that define the timbre of the sound, is a useful exercise dedicated to listening to the sound and revealing interesting details in the work.
The composers’ environment can cause many types of harmonic palettes in their work.
Some melodies are purely tonal or triadic, even completely diatonic (using only seven tones of the scale), while in the works can be used extended harmonies, including exotic scales, bitonality (simultaneous sounding of harmonies in different tones), quarterly harmony (on the basis of quarters instead of thirds) and even full atonality (without a “home key”, but with equal participation of all twelve tones).
I heard very good music, using alternative settings and temperaments. This is often the hallmark of an environment influenced by tribal or world music.
A setting that takes listeners out of the familiar western equipotential scales can open up great sound prospects. Listening to harmonic “spices” is a great way to blend in, which can include creative use of tonality and tuning.
There is no need to “identify” these elements precisely as musical. Excessive intellectualization can even prevent you from fully appreciating the composition of your environment. But by understanding and listening to these possibilities, you can open your ear and strengthen your personal connection to the piece of music.
Most ambient music has a strong visual component, at least for me. Not surprisingly, so many composers-emotional composers are also visual artists, or at least engaged in visual forms of art.
Although few composers or listeners may have real synesthesia (music as a color or form or colors as musical tones), the practice of visualization during listening opens up many connections between the senses and can enrich them.