About the New-Age Music
Have you ever listened to “The Castle of the Sky” by Joe Hisaishi? Do you clearly remember the rhythm of the scores? I think most of us already know the melody of the scores. It is one of the attractive points of new-age music. Listening to new-age music is relaxing. When people are off doing works; they always like to listen to some new-age music to calm their mind. It usually generates a familiar melody without many complicated materials. Audience can better feel touch and space while listening to music.
It is a form of music that emerged in the 1970s. Many people called them “BGM”, but it is not the official wording to describe them. We can easily define it as “Ambient Music” or “Spiritual music”. In general, musicians mainly used the keyboard (piano), Synthesizer, Guitar & Violin. This concept emerged due to the participation of professional musicians in the New-Age movement. Initially, it had no interest in the music industry, so musicians and related personnel established their own small independent record companies. In unusual channels such as bookstores, gift shops, health food stores, and boutiques, and through direct mail, sales have reached a considerable level. Sometimes it appears in a derogatory way, in the form of environmental music. However, this genre developed in the 1960s and became popular in the 1970s. Furthermore, this kind of music mostly has a soft and pleasant melody, almost no irritation, and a short sound.
For a more in-depth explanation, I chose to have a case study about Ryuichi Sakamoto, “The Godfather of New Age Music”. Ryuichi SakaSakamoto’s music is ethereal, blending east and west, ancient and modern, but also expresses his care for the earth and the world.
Firstly, we can find the music style is commonly classified as impressionism. The music is like the distant narrator and disrupts the forward motion of standard harmonic progressions. Also, we can observe the specific IV7–V7–vi7 progression & v9 chord inside the music. For example, the comparison between Debussy’s Clair de Lune & ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.
Also, we can find the repetitive melody at the beginning of “Rain” (Sakamoto, 1987). It makes the audience more easily remember the melody, which is an ABA format.Furthermore, the tempo is not a detectable tempo and the feelings are beyond the meter. Composers can change it to express their thoughts as needed. Notably, new-age music can produce “space” for the audience. Not only promotes the spatial characteristics of music but also generates personal thoughts of the audience through the salient rhythm & harmony. It usually appeared in the middle of the song.
As a pianist, the piano is always broken due to the percussion instruments. Hence, new-age music has been longing for a voice that will not disappear by enlarging the spatial characteristics of the music. We can continually feel the music through our minds. However, new-age music is still not a significant music style due to its simplification. But, it helps audience to find out the natural voice of the “world where people exist.” Is it the “simplification” that makes new-age music less famous? Is “less is more” correct in this sense? It is controversial to have a clear answer to the questions.