May 28, 2022
Meditation is increasingly being used unfairly as a label for relaxing music of all kinds, but meditation is more than relaxation.
There are many voices of music journalists lamenting the increasing simplification of popular music. Songs are getting shorter and shorter, and harmonies and melodies are becoming more and more interchangeable between the top ten on the charts.
This tendency to simplify and, unfortunately, blur the terminology of genre classifications has become a real problem. Unfortunately, music journalists and curators are adapting to this sloppiness at an alarming rate. The majority taste and also the view of the majority becomes the sole standard.
As an active music producer you are asked to classify your music yourself to make it recognizable for the listener. Now there is a category called “Ambient”, which includes everything that somehow seems to have something to do with slow and abstract, but actually it is a genre that is based on the works of Brian Eno, who himself had music for airports and train stations in mind.
Then there is the section “Chillout”, which in connection with “Lounge” means relaxed music for clubs. Chillout, in turn, is mixed with relaxation music and, horribly, is also listed under the label meditation. Meditation, however, is a practice that in no way has anything to do with relaxation in the sense of “switching off” – on the contrary! An essential element of meditative techniques is the conscious control of attention! This has nothing to do with airports and clubs.
If you enter “meditation” as a search term in Spotify, you will find many playlists that have the term “meditation” written on the flag. And what do we hear there? Exactly the same as in the top ten pop chats – only in slow, without rhythm and with spherical sounds. Music that is more suitable for falling asleep than for consciously directing attention. With a lot of good will one could argue that there is such a thing as “rest meditation”, but that is only one of many techniques of meditation – like Vipassana.
As a politically interested person, I inevitably suspect that this is a terrible sign of the increasing disinterest of societies in their fate. Although the earth is on the verge of climatic collapse, new wars begin, tying up the forces we actually needed to correct our way of life. It may be a bit far-fetched to relate this to the problem of classifying music, but the impossibility of classifying something conceptually, because the majority only wants to see a section of the world, is quite symptomatic. It is the end of diversity and plays into the hands of despots and simplifiers.