Music and Musical Thought of the New Age
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The aims of this paper are firstly to show the principal ways in which music and musical thought are associated with the New Age Movement and to demonstrate how these are related to New Age ideologies, and secondly to show that the musical thinking of the movement reflects a trend originating in the late nineteenth century. It is proposed that music plays an important and integral role within the movement, and that the way in which it is viewed in this context is not specific to the New Age, but rather is based on a tradition which can, like the movement itself, be traced back to late nineteenth century esoteric thought and indeed, further. Consequently, New Age music and its associated ideologies constitute the culmination of an important trend in musical thinking which stretches over an entire century and beyond. This proposal is based on two assumptions - firstly that a restricted number of themes can be identified as comprising New Age ideology, and secondly that these themes can be related to a wider, global paradigm shift. This is approached firstly through the identification of the ideologies and practices of the New Age Movement and how they are interrelated. The historical and sociological origins of the movement are then analysed to show that these practices and themes have much earlier precedents. From this information, a concise definition of the New Age Movement is identified, and the remainder of the paper is based upon this definition. The ideas represented in New Age musical texts are discussed and compared to determine common themes and how these relate to New Age ideology. This is followed by the analysis of a selection of European esoteric musical writings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is proposed that the same continuation of thought demonstrated earlier in the paper, that is from the esoteric movements of the nineteenth century into the era of the New Age Movement, is also present within esoteric musical thought. Therefore, the themes isolated as representative of the New Age Movement are recognisable in both the writings of the movement and those of the nineteenth century, continuing into the twentieth century. In an attempt to arrive at a stylistic description of New Age music, 133 CDs are analysed, which are representative of commercially available recordings of New Age music. The results of this musical analysis are then compared with the cover notes and illustrations to determine the relationship between the music and the extra-musical features of the CDs. The result of both the musical and extra-musical analysis is then compared with New Age ideology, with special reference to those themes outlined in the first chapters of the paper. The conclusion draws together this information to demonstrate that firstly, a distinct musical ideology, reflecting New Age themes, is an identifiable component of the movement. Secondly, that this musical thought is reflected in both New Age music, and in practices using music in the context of the New Age Movement. Finally, that this movement is a continuation of a trend in mystical thinking, or a spiritual movement which can be traced back to the nineteenth century, wherein it enjoyed an increase in popularity and exposure, and beyond. New Age music and musical thought are not exclusive to a contemporary movement, but rather are representative of a centuries old trend which is culminating now in what is known as the New Age Movement.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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