The category called “new age music,” is an extremely broad one, covering various musical styles that may individually fit into other categories of music, from folk, to Asian, to classical, to jazz. The kinds of music a person might find in the new age section of a music store or on a new age radio station would generally focus on improving the mood and calming the listener, or be more specifically geared to enhancing meditation or the practice of yoga, or accompanying a massage or wellness treatment.
One unifying factor in the new age category is the prevalence of instrumental rather than vocal music. Another aspect in common is the deep “drone” effect among the bass or lower tones, combined with a notable absence of defined musical cadence, all using a free-form modal approach to the music. Rather than being divided into individual songs or short pieces, the typical new age piece can be thirty minutes or longer in duration. New age recordings sometimes include sounds of nature such as waterfalls, the wind, or waves, rather than pieces of actual music.
Many musical artists who do not position their music as new age are nevertheless popular with the new age market, while other artists produce music specifically geared to that market. Starting in the 1960s as the purview of small independent record labels, by the 1980s the new age music genre (in a manner similar to new age activities like yoga) was a prosperous part of mainstream American culture.
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