Psychedelic music, a genre born in the 1960s, has timelessly shaped and significantly evolved the music industry by its introduction of mind-expanding sounds, hallucinogenic influences, and spiritual vibrations. With roots spread across multiple genres, including psychedelic rock and electronic music, the key appeal of this music genre lies in its ability to induce altered states of consciousness, closely mimicking the transcendental experiences caused by psychedelic substances.
Psychedelic music typically uses new recording techniques and effects and draws influence from non-western sources. The genre’s roots can be traced back to the mid-60s counterculture movement, where musicians began experimenting with drug influences and innovative sound techniques. Though the Beatles’ and Pink Floyd’s infusion of Indian classical music elements with rock are prominent examples, the true initiation of psychedelic rock can be credited to the 13th Floor Elevators from Texas. Their 1966 debut album titled ‘The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators’ marked the onset of a new musical era.
The emergence of electronic music in the 1980s and 1990s led to genre evolution profoundly impacting the psychedelic music scene. New sub-genres began to surface, such as psytrance (psychedelic trance), rooted in the electronic music scene of Goa, India. During this period, synth-driven English bands like Ozric Tentacles started making waves in the scene with their mixture of electronic music and psychedelic rock.
Psychedelic music aims to replicate or enhance the altered consciousness and transcendent experiences typically associated with hallucinogens. These transcendental experiences are a significant aspect of psychedelic music. The swirl of colours, distortion, and long, exploratory jams found in psychedelic rock attempt to mirror the ‘trip’ experience. In the realms of electronic music, the spellbinding beats of psytrance are designed to induce a state of trance and heightened consciousness.
Music therapy, a clinical and evidence-based treatment involving music interventions, aligns closely with the principles of psychedelic music. As therapy strives to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship, psychedelic music with its mind-expanding sounds and spiritual vibrations can invoke profound emotional responses and bring about therapeutic changes.
Consequently, to connect further with its audience and provide a space to experience the full potential of the genre, psychedelic music festivals have become widely popular in recent years. Captivating events like Burning Man in Nevada, Boom Festival in Portugal, or Ozora in Hungary embody the spirit of the genre, combining music, art, and community in environments designed to encourage self-expression, communal engagement, and collective transcendence.
However, as with any genre of music, it is vital to remember that the psychedelic experience is highly subjective. What may induce an altered state in one person might not work for another. The variety within the genre – from the sitar-driven tunes of the 1960s to the electronic beats of psytrance – caters to this subjectivity, providing avenues for exploration to all individuals drawn to it.
The influence of psychedelic music on contemporary artists remains strong. One can hear its echoes in the works of musicians like Tame Impala, MGMT, and Animal Collective, as well as in various sub-genres of electronic music, like psychill and ambient trance.
In conclusion, psychedelic music presents an exciting convergence of music, consciousness, and spirituality. It induces in listeners an altered state, capturing the essence of hallucinogenic experiences, and serves as a medium of music therapy. It is a vibrant genre that continues to evolve, grow and influence a wide spectrum of artists. Inspiring numerous sub-genres and exerting considerable influence over modern music artists, psychedelic music will continue its perpetually expanding journey across the inner cosmos.