Any idea about the main rules of "Relaxing Music"?

sonicscape

New Member
Does anyone compose in this New Age/Relaxing Music Style?:


I need the do's and not to do's about the genre (Like main chord progressions. using Pad sounds with long duration, suitable Plugins).

I use Omnisphere & Reaper. I am not a preofessional musician and i am still learning theory.

Any idea will very helpful to me.

Thank you very much!..
 

Ivan M.

Member
Well, now that I think of it, relaxing is slow, so tempo, melody and chord progression need to be slow. Relaxing is also quiet, so no loud stuff. Relaxing is also simple, therefore simple and lets call it "neutral" harmony. Relaxing is also nature noises, which are random, the "shhhh" or humming sounds, and evolving textures. Relaxed is also something distant, not in your face, so reverb and delay.

Simple harmony like I-II-IV or I-VI-II or whatever. No modulations, leading tones and stuff, as they build up emotion. Or simply I, the root chord all the way, I listen to stuff with just one chord (the content is in texture).

And what I mean by neutral harmony, is chords with less emotion or color, like maj6, maj7 chords, 9/11/13th, and the ubiquitous min7. You can also use a pedal tone and some simple harmony on top.

So stuff like that
 
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sonicscape

New Member
Well, now that I think of it, relaxing is slow, so tempo, melody and chord progression need to be slow. Relaxing is also quiet, so no loud stuff. Relaxing is also simple, therefore simple and lets call it "neutral" harmony. Relaxing is also nature noises, which are random, the "shhhh" or humming sounds, and evolving textures. Relaxed is also something distant, not in your face, so reverb and delay.

Simple harmony like I-II-IV or I-VI-II or whatever. No modulations, leading tones and stuff, as they build up emotion. Or simply I, the root chord all the way, I listen to stuff with just one chord (the content is in texture).

And what I mean by neutral harmony, is chords with less emotion or color, like maj6, maj7 chords, 9/11/13th, and the ubiquitous min7. You can also use a pedal tone and some simple harmony on top.

So stuff like that
Thank you Ivan. You gave me a lot of functional information! So in generally we avoid minor scales, big steps and melodic techniques. Can circle of fifths be useful for chord progressions in this case?
 

Ivan M.

Member
Thank you Ivan. You gave me a lot of functional information! So in generally we avoid minor scales, big steps and melodic techniques. Can circle of fifths be useful for chord progressions in this case?
Do use the minor scale, it's not always sad, depends on how you use it, especially with extended chords.

Take for example the CEGA, there's both a major (CEG) and a minor chord (CEA). What impression it will have (bright or melancholic) depends on what you put in the bass C or A, so CEGA or ACEG, 6th chord or min7th.

That's why I called them "neutral", or even better desaturated, diluted, ambivalent, it reminds me of creamy desaturated colors, hard to put it into words, it's not flashy and bright like a simple major, and not as sad as a simple minor, but something in between, indifferent. That's why is perfect for ambient and relaxing, no emotional energy, neither happy nor sad. But, of course, you can always create relaxing music that's more on the happy side, or sad side.
 

KarlHeinz

Senior Member
Hi Ivan,

great help for me too, thanks a lot for this. Do you have some more chord progressions that stands for this ? I must admit I am really not educated in music theory, I tried to find my way around some chord progressions for the lydian scale but always had the feeling that I really put "too much" in anyway into it. Maybe cause from "real" making music now decades ago I come from folk and blues background. Really appreciate your input !
 

Virtual Virgin

Active Member
Timbre wise I would choose instruments and sounds with a mild attack. Nothing startling.
Light harps, soft mallet vibraphone, slow strings. Synth pads with a long attack.
If you want woodwinds or brass or sax, try to go pianissimo and almost breathy. Don't approach any range extremes. No blasting.

Tempo wise I would go with slow resting heart rate (about 50-60 BPM) or tempo rubato.

Melody/harmony- try not to lead anywhere. Expectations build anticipation which brings alertness.
The content should be fairly static but not rigid.
 

KarlHeinz

Senior Member
slow resting heart rate (about 50-60 BPM)
Good point, I always wonder about relationships between music/body/mind. When I do TaiChi I "worry" about my breath but not about the music I might listen to and vice versa but this is a very important point. Would be thankful for any hints in this direction too.
 

Ivan M.

Member
Hi Ivan,

great help for me too, thanks a lot for this. Do you have some more chord progressions that stands for this ? I must admit I am really not educated in music theory, I tried to find my way around some chord progressions for the lydian scale but always had the feeling that I really put "too much" in anyway into it. Maybe cause from "real" making music now decades ago I come from folk and blues background. Really appreciate your input !
Uhm, there are no formulas, those above I just made up on the spot, I II VI in major scale sound neutral. But, harmony is usually non-existent in relaxing ambient, I think your biggest challenge is going to be sound design.

This is one of the tracks I listened to the most in 2019, by deezer statistics:
 
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sonicscape

New Member
Uhm, there are no formulas, those above I just made up on the spot, I II VI in major scale sound neutral. But, harmony is usually non-existent in relaxing ambient, I think your biggest challenge is going to be sound design.

This is one of the tracks I listened to the most in 2019, by deezer statistics:
Thank you very much Ivan! I know, rules are the 10% of a good composition and the rest is unique creativity. I'll experiment the combinations of the chords you suggest.
 

dsblais

Active Member
Does anyone compose in this New Age/Relaxing Music Style?:


I need the do's and not to do's about the genre (Like main chord progressions. using Pad sounds with long duration, suitable Plugins).

I use Omnisphere & Reaper. I am not a preofessional musician and i am still learning theory.

Any idea will very helpful to me.

Thank you very much!..
Thank you for sharing your song. It was very nice.

Individual chords and chord progressions can definitely create impressions of relaxation or tension. The sounds used can as well, whether for biological or cultural reasons (e.g. wind in trees or the soft tones in the human speech range). Rhythm is a large component, although it is not necessarily the absence of rhythmic energy that makes a piece relaxing. A meditative sus4-maj pulse can be more relaxing than a dissonant drone, for instance.

Omnisphere has such a wonderful range of sounds. If you want to add orchestral VIs, this forum is a great place for recommendations; piano, harp, woodwinds, and strings all have tremendous potential for relaxing pieces. Good luck!
 

Quasar

Senior Member
Simple motifs repeated in slightly different variations that resolve to the root in expected, standardized ways, or at least don't challenge the listener very much. Mixture of major and minor key variants are fine. The music has to have enough movement to not be static, yet not so much as to surprise the listener, so many of the "do's" of most music composition are "don'ts": You need to avoid sudden or dramatic dynamic contrasts, abrupt changes in timbre or tempo that reset one's mood etc. IOW it can't be too interesting, otherwise it draws undo attention to itself. A degree of unpredictability has to be there, but it has to be subtle.

Flowing water waves or something, always moving but without turbulence...
 

JEPA

Senior Member
New Age/Relaxing Music Style?
Now being serious, you have to start with the beginning. New Age/Relaxing Music Style is based on Meditation.

- Meditation is based on breathing slow rhythm. Breathing deep slow rhythm takes your body to a state of awareness and sensibility. Your sense of weight and your skin, your hole body is your sensitivity brain.
- Your actual brain is going to vibrate or perceive differently. It is said that brain waves have longitudes alpha, beta, theta, delta.
- The aim of Meditation is to reach other vibration states most likely "theta" vibration. This state would be as dreaming awaken.
- New Age/Relaxing Music Style aims to motivate such states.

Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves. There are four categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. When the brain is aroused and actively engaged in mental activities, it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude, and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. The frequency of beta waves ranges from 15 to 40 cycles a second. Beta waves are characteristics of a strongly engaged mind. A person in active conversation would be in beta. A debater would be in high beta. A person making a speech, or a teacher, or a talk show host would all be in beta when they are engaged in their work.

The next brainwave category in order of frequency is alpha. Where beta represented arousal, alpha represents non-arousal. Alpha brainwaves are slower, and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who has completed a task and sits down to rest is often in an alpha state. A person who takes time out to reflect or meditate is usually in an alpha state. A person who takes a break from a conference and walks in the garden is often in an alpha state.
The next state, theta brainwaves, are typically of even greater amplitude and slower frequency. This frequency range is normally between 5 and 8 cycles a second. A person who has taken time off from a task and begins to daydream is often in a theta brainwave state. A person who is driving on a freeway, and discovers that they can't recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state--induced by the process of freeway driving. The repetitious nature of that form of driving compared to a country road would differentiate a theta state and a beta state in order to perform the driving task safely.
Individuals who do a lot of freeway driving often get good ideas during those periods when they are in theta. Individuals who run outdoors often are in the state of mental relaxation that is slower than alpha and when in theta, they are prone to a flow of ideas. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage from them. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.
The final brainwave state is delta. Here the brainwaves are of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency. They typically center around a range of 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. They never go down to zero because that would mean that you were brain dead. But, deep dreamless sleep would take you down to the lowest frequency. Typically, 2 to 3 cycles a second.
When we go to bed and read for a few minutes before attempting sleep, we are likely to be in low beta. When we put the book down, turn off the lights and close our eyes, our brainwaves will descend from beta, to alpha, to theta and finally, when we fall asleep, to delta.

It is a well known fact that humans dream in 90 minute cycles. When the delta brainwave frequencies increase into the frequency of theta brainwaves, active dreaming takes place and often becomes more experiential to the person. Typically, when this occurs there is rapid eye movement, which is characteristic of active dreaming. This is called REM, and is a well known phenomenon.
When an individual awakes from a deep sleep in preparation for getting up, their brainwave frequencies will increase through the different specific stages of brainwave activity. That is, they will increase from delta to theta and then to alpha and finally, when the alarm goes off, into beta. If that individual hits the snooze alarm button they will drop in frequency to a non-aroused state, or even into theta, or sometimes fall back to sleep in delta. During this awakening cycle it is possible for individuals to stay in the theta state for an extended period of say, five to 15 minutes--which would allow them to have a free flow of ideas about yesterday's events or to contemplate the activities of the forthcoming day. This time can be an extremely productive and can be a period of very meaningful and creative mental activity.
In summary, there are four brainwave states that range from the high amplitude, low frequency delta to the low amplitude, high frequency beta. These brainwave states range from deep dreamless sleep to high arousal. The same four brainwave states are common to the human species. Men, women and children of all ages experience the same characteristic brainwaves. They are consistent across cultures and country boundaries.

Artist like, Kitaro, Enya, Yanni, Oliver Shanti, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Clannad, Anuna, Loreena Mckennitt have managed the music to motivate such meditative states. New Age movement is born on cultural movement of the '60s looking for responses in ancient and traditional cultures (middle ages, gregorian chants, indian mantras, sacred music, shaman chants), aboriginal as well as Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religious thinkings. A remaining phenomena of the "romantic" period in the arts (music, literature, theater, plastic arts), the "exoticism" (the desire or admiration/rejection for "the other" cultural or otherness), is a possible influence for the New Age movement. New Age & World Music got commercial as a catergory in the early 80's to find a way in the music industry (see Peter Gabriel).
 
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JEPA

Senior Member
Music tools for Meditation:

- Pedal
A pedal is a sustained note, favorite is a bass note. We can find it in the cultures like in India or Schotland, Ireland and European old middle ages cultures. The sustained characteristic allows the perception of loss of time, allowing relaxation, no beats marking time:

 
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