“Chill Music” Makes A Comeback


It’s long been said that music calms the savage beast. This idiom is actually a misquote of a line from the 1697 play The Mourning Bride. Nevertheless, music does make us happy, can move us to tears, and cause us to break out in dance. However, with concerts and festivals being placed on hold, along with pretty much everything else, we humans are finding ways to adapt, adjust and get creative in this new normal, this new season of life.

For those who may find themselves feeling stressed and filled with anxiety, popular streaming sites like Myndstream is treating audiences to a host of “chill” playlists. Apple also has a personalized “Come Together” playlist for your listening pleasure. Spotify features “chill playlists” such as “Ambient Chill,” “Deep Focus,” and “Peaceful Piano.” All of this comes just in time considering many may have trouble sleeping or can use meditative sounds to help calm down while being on lockdown.

Missing your local halls, stadiums, and other venues for a chance to see some of your favorite artists perform? Try another alternative. There are loads of free virtual concerts to check out and of course, NPR Music is happy to oblige so it’s a good place to start out looking for the latest happenings.

Studies have shown that listening to music is a great way to lift spirits and boost energy. In fact, funding for medical studies is advancing in an effort to learn how music impacts the brain with researchers using biofeedback. Artists like RZA from Wu-Tang Clan are melding meditation music mashups to help listeners find inner peace for their wellbeing. Giant mediation app Calm is planning to create a whole “new kind of label” for artists wanting to launch into the business of wellness music. Calm’s popular “Sleep” channel features exclusive compositions by artists such as Moby and Sam Smith, designed to work as adult lullabies and musical sedatives. Calm is working with artists such as country music star Keith Urban, along with artists across all music genres, from pop to hip-hop—to create creative, long-form “Calm” music of all kinds.

The British Academy of Sound Therapy recently discovered that 78 minutes devoted to listening to music can be optimal for improving mental health. Serious money is being invested to understand music’s influence in improving human wellbeing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was awarded $20 million to fund a Sound Health Initiative which will undertake studies to reveal music’s mechanisms of action in the brain. There will also be studies to identify new interventions, including treating symptoms of pain, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, autism, stroke, and dementia to music’s impact on childhood development.

Since no one knows how long we will be living life largely in self-isolation, bombarded by bad news until more good news overtakes it all, nurturing our love of music may be another good way to spend our days. Rest those exhausted eyes from TV viewing and, or least, cast them on a virtual concert or two. Carve out space in your home to meditate. Take deep breaths, put on some “chill” music, and be well.

-Sharon Oliver

Photo: Zen Buddhist temple, Kyoto, Japan via Wikimedia Commons

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