Gregorian Chant

Gregorian Chant

"Old Age" Meditation Music

Gregorian Chant is not New Age music, but it's usually sold in the New Age section. Why is that? Because it shares certain features in common with New Age music and is usually marketed to the same market.

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Gregorian Chant is actually the oldest surviving form of Western music. It's a type of “plainsong” or “plainchant,” which means that any given chant has only a single, simple melody. These chants were created as liturgical music for the medieval Church, and they still have a quality of timeless, almost eerie spiritual presence. Most people find them profoundly relaxing, though- the eerie quality I mentioned is very subtle.

It's probably the “relaxing spirituality” aspect that causes Gregorian Chant to be associated with New Age music, but the two genres have another point in common as well. That's the use of a “free time” structure, where the music does not have a definable time signature. Time signatures probably had their origins in work music. For instance, rowers on a galley would sing to coordinate their rowing actions. Most music before the Renaissance, though, was in free time, and most types of “world music” are as well. New Age music probably borrowed the use of free time from two sources- free jazz, and world music. But the use of free time in Gregorian Chant still gives it a similar “feel” to New age music. Many people also find it very suitable for use while meditating, as long as they aren't worried about the explicitly Catholic nature of the chants themselves!