Where to Find Music for Meditations
Guided Meditations and Soundscapes
Guide to Finding Meditation Music
If you’re new to meditation, you might struggle to know where to find the right music. There is quite a variety of relaxation, new age, and avant-garde music available online. You can find some of it for free and others with a subscription to a streaming service.
Some meditation music is meant to help you relax while other songs and soundscapes lend themselves more to cultivating visualizations. Meditation is both about stopping restless thoughts and letting yourself wander in your imagination.
I often listen to soothing music. I play it when I do yoga or while I’m writing. This guide offers tips on where to find music and some of my personal suggestions.
It’s really easy to find this style of music, even if you don’t know any song titles or artist names. You can be really lazy and just ask Alexa or Siri to play meditation music for you. Alexa will play soothing music off Amazon, or if you have Alexa connected to Apple Music, Spotify, or another streaming service… she’ll play from that.
Benefits of Meditative Music
Music can be used to cope with stress and anxiety. There are studies that show it helps with memory and cognitive performance (I listed some studies at the bottom of this page).
Actively listening to music can help people detach from their surroundings and instead focus on what’s going on in their mind. It can help you connect to your feelings and desires.
Music while meditating can make it easier to visualize. It inspires images and memories. Music therapy with a professional is a unique way to cope with mental health issues and/or resolve them.
Where to Find Music and Guided Meditations
If you’re at home and you just want to relax, I’d recommend pulling up a meditation music video on your TV. There are a neverending amount of ASMR, binaural beats, hypnosis sessions, and instrumental music videos on YouTube. Many of these are very repetitive, playing the same chords, notes, and noises over and over again.
Here are some search keywords I would suggest:
- Soothing Asian music
- Bamboo flute
- Music for chakras
- Music for healing
- Celtic music
- Morning music
- Bookstore ambience
- Forest ambience
- Studying music
- Lofi hip hop radio
- Sleep music
- Hypnosis music
Check your local library for audio recordings of meditation music or other similar items. If your library has an online portal, you might be able to find resources there. Libraries often have DVDs and CDs that you can rent.
Some podcasts have guided meditations including Meditation Oasis, Meditation Minis Podcast, and Mindful in Minutes. Podcasts for the most part are more about listening to a speaker than music, but occasionally they have soothing music along with their instructions.
There are several apps designed to help you meditate. One of the most popular ones is Calm. Apps sometimes have a cost to them, so be careful. They have sleep stories, soundscapes, guided hypnosis, and sometimes health tips and other resources.
Finding Similar Artists
If there is an artist you particularly like, Apple Music and other streaming services will generally have similar artists listed on their page as well as playlists. You can also create radios around your favorite artists or around themes.
What Are Binaural Beats?
It is an auditory effect created in the brain when two tones of similar, but different, frequencies are played simultaneously and into different ears. Your brain is designed to pick up on nuances in sound. Your brain feels like there is a constant fluctuation in sound. The difference between the two frequencies is called a subharmonic.
The sounds can induce a state of relaxation or make you feel sleepy. On the flip side, another arrangement could make you feel more stressed or alert (which is good for waking up and getting out of bed).
What Is ASMR?
Autonomous sensory meridian response — it is also called auto sensory meridian response. It produces a tingling sensation in the head and neck. Some people can achieve this sensation by listening to people whispering or by listening to binaural beats.
People make intentional videos and soundclips for ASMR. The videos attempt to help people achieve the tingling feeling.
Instrumental music can be great for thinking or relaxing. I find it pleasant to listen to music that doesn’t have an exact message to it. In a way, instrumental music is purer than music with lyrics because it is less likely to stir up controversy.
Some of the songs I’ve listed might be pushing it for meditation. I want to give you plenty of options, so you don’t feel like you’re tied down to the same type of music for your relaxation sessions.
If you’re rusty on classical music, have no fear! I have a few suggestions to get you into the right mood.
Claude Debussy: There is nothing more dreamy than Claude Debussy’s music. His music is what I think impressionist paintings would sound like. Some of my favorite compositions from him include: “Clair de lune”, “Arabesque №1”, “En bateau”, “Nocturnes”, and “L’enfant prodigue”. Debussy was influenced by Russian and Far Eastern music. He created his own style of harmony and improvisation.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Perhaps the greatest composer of all time. There is nothing quite like sipping some tea while taking a bath and listening to “Air on the G String”. There is also “Ave Maria”, “Adagio”, “Aria”, “Prelude in C Major”, and “Invention №1 in C Major”. It’s really easy to get lost in Bach’s music for an afternoon.
Ludwig van Beethoven: I find his music beautifully moody and passionate. My favorite composition is “Moonlight Sonata”. “Für Elise” is one of the most recognizable tunes of all time. Other classic splendors include: “Piano Sonata no. 29 in B flat major”, “Sonata in D №9”, “Romance in F”, and “Sonata in C №3”.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Regarded as the greatest Russian composer. His works are of a romantic and complex nature. His most recognizable works are Swan Lake, the Nutcracker Suite, and Symphony №4. He is the master of waltzes, operas, and ballets.
Johann Pachelbel: If you don’t remember him from music history during your elementary days, he’s the guy who came up with the song that’s played at just about every wedding since the beginning of time. The song has been redesigned multiple times (I enjoy Blues Traveler’s “Hook”). So what is this mega-popular tune? I’m talking about “Canon in D Major” also affectionately called “Pachelbel’s Canon”.
Unfortunately, you may struggle to find any other songs related to this classical genius. There is the Magnificat Fugue, if you fancy a larger collection.
Edvard Grieg: Norwegian composer of folk-inspired works. He wrote for orchestra, solo piano, string quartet, and the likes. He is considered Norway’s most famous composer. The mountainous beauty of Scandinavia inspired him. He favored pure modal harmonies.
One of his most famous works is “Concerto for Piano in A”. Other lovely compositions include: “‘Two Elegiac’” for String Orchestra, Op. 34: Il. Last Spring”, “Fra Holdbergs tid (From Holberg’s Time) Op. 40 Melodies”, and “Peer Gynt №1, Op. 46 I. Morning Mood”.
Frédéric François Chopin: Polish composer known for his genius on the piano. He is well regarded for such beauties as “Nocturne 13 Op. 48 No 1”, “Prelude Op. 9, №2”, and “Minute Waltz II”.
Franz Liszt: A Hungarian composer with an affinity for the piano and organ. His music sounds like it was composed by fairies or other ethereal woodland creatures. I’m a fan of “La Campanella”, “Dreams of Love №3”, and “Orpheus”. For a more dramatic music listening, he has a symphony based around Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Far East Composers
You could spend the rest of your life listening to and learning about traditional Asian music. China’s music tradition alone dates all the way back to the Zhou dynasty (1122 to 256BCE).
I have listed below music leaders from different time periods and Asian countries. I found music by these composers and artists on Apple Music or Spotify, so I thought they would be good recommendations for you.
Yatsuhashi Kengyo: A Japanese composer from Kyoto. He lived from 1614 to 1685. “Kengyō” is an honorary title given to blind musicians. He played shamisen and koto. He wrote the important koto piece “Rokudan-no-shirabe”. He is also known for “Midare”.
Hiro Fujikake: A composer, conductor, and synthesizer player from Japan. He is known for Pastoral Fantasy, The Rope Crest, and Symphony Japan. His music reminds me of songs found in Super Nintendo games, like Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy II. He has written music for mandolin orchestras, guitar, choral music, ballets, and musicals. He sometimes likes to mix rock or jazz elements into his songs. Some of his songs include natural elements, like water.
Akemi Yamada: Composer based in New York. A lovely hidden gem who plays koto.
Isang Yun: Korean-born composer who made his career in Germany. He specializes in traditional Korean music and avant-garde. He is a cello master. Isang Yun’s music is on Apple Music. His songs are rich with complications, like a cake with multiple ingredients. He employs vibrati, portamenti, pizzicato, glissandi, and ornamental percussion. He is a fan of creating music with multiple lines.
Shinuh Lee: A South Korean composer of contemporary classical music. She is known for: <Psalm Sonata>, <Psalmody>, <Death and Offering>, <Expression>, and <Po’tae-pyong>. Apparently, she is a fan of putting carrots (<>) around her titles.
Trịnh Công Sơn: Have you ever wanted to hear a Vietnamese composer pull off Latin jazz? I know, it’s absurd. You can’t casually drop Trịnh Công Sơn into conversation and expect anyone to pick up what you’re talking about. He is widely considered Vietnam’s greatest songwriter. His music explores themes of love, loss, and anti-war sentiments. He was against the Vietnam War. It’s worth spending time to learn about him and his music, paintings, and poetry.
Chen Yi: Chinese-American violinist and composer. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her work Si Ji. She has an incredibly long list of compositions to her name.
Composers Who Popularized Meditation Music in the 20th Century
Some modern, 20th-century composers had a strong desire to break the mold and the tired expectations of classical music. They pushed hard on the boundaries of what we knew to create compositions that were wild, beautiful, and captivating.
Their work led to epiphanies in sound and music. These composers inspired several film and video game composers. The 20th-century revolution in music could also be compared to the pop art scene that was taking place around the same time.
John Cage: American composer who was one of the leading artists of the post-war avant-garde. His music was pivotal for launching modern dance. He studied Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism. He designed aleatoric or chance-controlled music, this means some elements of the music are left to chance.
He saw music as an affirmation of life. He composed avant-garde pieces such as “Quartet for 4 Percussionists: Il. Very Slow”, “Solo for Piano with Bassoon”, and “Fourth Interlude”.
Stuart Dempster: Trombonist, didjeridu player, and composer. He is credited with bringing the didjeridu to North America. He practices yoga and breath control including circular breathing. He has worked on a number of collaborations. His album Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel is worth listening to while meditating.
Terry Riley: American composer, pioneer of the minimalist school of composition. Influenced by jazz and Indian classical music. His music is very new age-y. His music has a ’60s feel. He was influenced by the mantra-like repetition of Indian classical music. Essential albums are: Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air and Riley: Persian Surgery Dervishes.
Tony Scott: A bebop clarinetist. In the 1950s, he traveled the world to explore folk music. He attended Juilliard. He played Eastern classical music and recorded meditation music for Verve. A good starting point is his album Music for Zen Meditation.
Karlheinz Stockhausen: A German composer who mixed together Eastern traditions, avant-garde, and rock. His music is unpredictable and all over the place. For those seeking a time of reflection, I recommend Mantra, Inori, and Hymnen.
Philip Glass: American composer with a love for repetitive phrases and layers. He is considered a minimalist. His music has been used in several movies including The Truman Show and Leviathan. He has more of a Western classical background, but the repetitious nature of his songs makes it meditative.
Various Artists Recommended for Meditation
- Loreena McKennitt
- Sarah Brightman
- Celtic Woman
- Karl Jenkins
- David Arkenstone
- John Adorney
- Diane Arkenstone
- The Choral Music of Ng Cheuk-yin
- Mak Jun-Hung
- Angela Aki
- Yoko Kanno
- Alexandre Desplat
- E.S. Posthumus
- Eric Whitacre
- Meditation Music: The Science Behind How Music Helps us to Relax”. Therachat Blog. 2017–08–17. Retrieved 2022–02–14.
- “The magic of mindfulness”. Harvard Health. 2013–09–01. Retrieved 2022–02–14.
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Originally published: https://remedygrove.com/wellness/Where-to-Find-Music-for-Meditations