Musicians Guide to New Age Music
In discussing New Age music, it is very difficult to classify since the term can refer to many things. Many conservative groups believe that it refers to music inspired from the New Age, a movement of spirituality that isn't really an official organized religion. These same groups will generally shun this New Age music because they fear it will influence listeners into the New Age movement, but the New Age movement doesn't gather more followers in such a manner. There is music that is definitely inspired by New Age spirituality, like numerous meditation CDs that can be found at any New Age bookstore, but sometimes music that uses electronic rhythms gets incorrectly categorized as New Age.
The term is sometimes associated with ‘elevator’ music – electronic synthesized, calming rhythms. This type of music came in around the time when artists began to use the full spectrum of the synthesizer in the seventies and eighties.
Most New Age artists go out of their way to be labeled as such. Vangelis, for example, who won an Academy Award for his work on the main theme to Chariots of Fire, does not consider himself New Age, as does Tangerine Dream. Another famed artist from this venue is Yanni, who refers to his works as contemporary instrumentals. Perhaps the most well known is Enya, who had a mainstream hit in 1988 with “Orinoco Flow”, but also rejects the label as a New Age singer. If there is a genre for her, it might be Celtic, but she is only one of a few supposed New Age artists to achieve crossover success.
Considering most of these artists do not consider themselves to be New Age, perhaps this raises an important question of the appropriateness of genre labeling.