New Age is the term commonly used to designate the broad movement of late 20th century and contemporary Western culture, characterized by an eclectic and individual approach to spiritual exploration and references the supposed coming astrological Age of Aquarius. Self-spirituality, New spirituality, and Mind-body-spirit are other names sometimes used for the movement.
Beliefs in New Age ideas are found among diverse individuals, including some who graft additional beliefs onto a traditional religious affiliation. Individuals who hold any of its beliefs may not identify with the name, and the name may be applied as a label by outsiders to anyone they consider inclined towards its world view.
The New Age movement includes elements of older spiritual and religious traditions from both East and West, many of which have been melded with ideas from modern science, particularly psychology and ecology.
New Age ideas could be described as drawing inspiration from all the major world religions with influences from Spiritualism, Buddhism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Shamanism, Mayanism, Ceremonial magic, Sufism, Taoism, New Thought, Wiccan and Neo-Paganism being especially strong.
From this collection of influences have come a wide-ranging literature on spirituality, new forms of music known as "new age music", crafts—most visible in speciality shops and New Age fairs and festivals, and increased interest in the methods of alternative medicine.
New Age Music
New Age music is peaceful music of various styles that is intended to create relaxation and positive feelings. Some but not all new age music is associated with New Age beliefs.
New Age music is typically relaxing and inspiring, and is often used by listeners for such activities as yoga, massage, meditation, reading, as a method of stress management or to create a peaceful atmosphere in their home or other environments.
The harmonies in new age music are generally modal, consonant, or include a drone bass. The melodies are often repetitive, to create a hypnotic feeling, and sometimes recordings of nature sounds are used as an introduction to a track or throughout the piece. Songs of up to 30 minutes duration are not uncommon.
New Age music includes both electronic forms, frequently relying on sustained pads or long sequencer-based runs; and acoustic forms, featuring instruments such as flutes, piano, acoustic guitar and a wide variety of non-western acoustic instruments.
In many cases, high-quality digitally sampled instruments are used instead of natural acoustic instruments. Vocal arrangements were initially rare in New Age music but as it has evolved vocals have become more common, especially vocals featuring Sanskrit, Tibetan or Native American-influenced chants, or lyrics based on mythology such as Celtic legends or the realm of Faerie.