Ambient Music

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


Ambient music, alongside related forms such as chill out, muzak and easy listening, fulfills 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 asks how this music has been used by religion, and how it has used religion, examining religion and popular music from the perspective of this genre and musical style. This involves 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 study traces the development of ambient music, addressing the integration of mysticism and spirituality, Eastern religious thinking within 1960s counter-culture, experimental art music traditions and minimalism, with reference to the term new age, and reflecting a post-secular search for meaning. Discussion of European electronic music focused on soundscape and a sense of space further investigates the aesthetic and cultural characteristics of ambient music. The emergence and definition of the term ambient music is discussed, along with its popularization in the nineties, following the Orb and KLF into the electronic dance music culture (EDMC) and electronica of club chill out rooms. The religious and spiritual role of ambient music illustrates a re-enchantment of daily lives, an everyday spirituality of sacralized popular culture that breaks down separations between sacred and secular.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Popular Music
EditorsChristopher Partridge, Marcus Moberg
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Print)1474237339, 978-147423-734-5
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Handbooks in Religion


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