Ambient Music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Ambient music, alongside related forms such as chill out, muzak and easy listening, occupies a generous quantity of real estate in the few record stores that still exist in the twenty-first century. It fulfils a very particular function, providing moments of stillness in a constantly moving world. This chapter explores the relationships of ambient music to religion and new age concepts of spirituality. It questions how ambient music has been used by religion and how it has used religion. In doing so, the chapter examines religion and popular music from the perspective of this genre rather than from the perspective of a religion or religions.

This will involve exploring the nature of ambient music, beginning with its prehistory in a range of religious traditions that focus on meditation, ecstatic states and stillness. The development of ambient music will be explored through the integration of a number of elements. These include mysticism, spirituality and Eastern religious thought adopted both from within the popular music-driven counterculture that emerged from the 1960s, and from within experimental art traditions including the music of John Cage and minimalism. Such spiritualities, sometimes associated with the term New Age, reflect a post-secular search for meaning (Bailey 2002)....
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Popular Music
EditorsChristopher Partridge, Marcus Moberg
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781474237345, 9781474237352
ISBN (Print)9781474237338, 9781474237369
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Handbooks in Religion


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