Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Why is the type of music we compose called “new age” music? Many have tried to change the “new age” moniker – Target calls it “Lifescapes.” Muzak calls it “Moodscapes.” Music Choice calls it “Soundscapes.” I think Borders Books & Music tried calling it “Lifestyles.” I have also heard “neo-classical” and “contemporary instrumental” among others.
Why do I bring this up? A woman recently commented to me how sad it was that we were not Christians. This surprised me greatly. I asked her why she would say that. She said well obviously since you compose “new age” music you are not Christians. Wow!! On the contrary – we are. I was curious if this lady’s viewpoint was a common one, and if so, how this happened? Why is this type of music being thought of as Unchristian?
I doubt the classification “new age” will be going away any time soon. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences still calls it “new age” and there is even a Grammy Award for new age music. iTunes calls it “new age”. Amazon still lists a “new age” genre.
But what exactly does “new age” mean? Wikipedia has an exhaustive and interesting page on the origins of new age music at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age_music. But I still did not find the answer to my question until I looked at the “new age SPIRITUALITY” page on Wikipedia.
Although the term “new age” was first used in 1809 by William Blake, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that the concept of “new age spirituality” was condemned by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. Even though new age music had little to do with actual new age spirituality practices, it had apparently been condemned as well.
Sadly, it was brick and mortar music stores that lumped dozens of genres of music under the “new age” moniker simply because they did not want to deal with them. Think about it – Enya and Vangelis were originally in the “Pop” bins – not new age. But then along came Celtic music and Native American music and ambient, electronica, world, chillout, space music and jazz crossover (among many others). What’s a little old record store to do? And so the “new age” bin became the melting pot – the catch-all to avoid having to keep all of these genres clearly separate. And I totally empathize! Truly there are dozens of “sub-genres” of new age. There was no way to keep track of it all. But you know what? The brick and mortar stores are gone and we now have computers. Why not embrace all the micro-genres of music?
Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology to build the world’s first bionic music store. 🙂