Music is pretty intimate for me, but most people say that. Words like “magical” or “spiritual” are used liberally like fireworks on The 4th of July to express people’s emotional reactions to music.
But fireworks on The 4th of July are normal, expected. No one feels special for having fireworks or watching them on Independence Day, it’s slightly weird if you don’t participate in it. Music is the same way. Almost everyone has a strong emotional reaction to music. Only those who have a condition like amusica or are really boring don’t like any music.
What is spiritual music?
But what is really magical or spiritual music? In the simplest sense, spiritual music would explicitly through vocals or at least in the intention of the writing be about spirituality or to invoke a spiritual rather than emotional sensation. The problem for me is when something not intended to be spiritual is interpreted as such because the person hasn’t ever experienced something profoundly spiritual.
I recognize this might require me to make the leap to suppose what their inner experience is, but I think that criticism could be levied against any qualia we feel. An example would be there is no way to tell if someone is just somewhat angry and used that as an excuse to say something rude, or if someone was so enraged it just slipped out. There isn’t any way to truly know, but we can fairly accurately tell via clues and so the same applies to music and people’s reactions to it.
For something to be magical though, is in my opinion utterly unquestionable given the intent is there. Magic isn’t something people normally do by accident, and people either will or will not react to it. It isn’t just about altered states to me but one that significantly changes how your mind is processing information and your perception and experience of reality. Simple emotional changes isn’t enough for this, if anything it’s by nature unemotional, even though one can experience emotions during it in response to that magically induced altered state of consciousness.
Psychedelic and the Altered States
A good example of this is a lot of Trance and Psychedelic music. Particularly early Goa music, then called “Dance Trance” was designed to induce highly spiritual states, ones I would normally refer to as mystical. It was straight up magic, and that intention of causing trippy spiritual trances wasn’t lost in those dance genres until sometime in the early 2000’s (although it’s still relatively common). In my opinion psychedelic trance has lost that edge, likely due to the influence of progressive house and European trance.
A good example of that highly magical, often very spiritual music would be something like Cosmosis’s Gift of the Gods or Astral Projection’s Kabalah. If that isn’t intentionally magical and spiritual, I don’t know what is. Likewise today I’ve found countless tracks that hold that same spirit such as Party Heroes’ Astral Vision or Dynamic & Lost in Space’s The Power of the Mind.
That isn’t the only genre however that I like that really shows this. Something can be as explicit as Sicktanick’s Occult Rap and The Infernal Names or something less direct like electro-industrial, artists like Asphyxia.
I’ve actually set out to do this with my own music, as if casting a spell on those listening to the music. There have actually people who have literally claimed to have done this in the past. An example would be A Swedish black metal band Shining who wrote music almost entirely about suicide and depression as a “weapon” against the listener.
I’d probably fall somewhere more along the lines of Akercocke or Watain however, who create their music for religious reasons and don’t shy away from expressing their beliefs in their music. An intimate knowledge of mysticsm and/or Satanism wasn’t lost on a lot of black metal bands, and fans knew full well that they were the real deal whether they agreed with the lyrics or not.
An early example of this for me was Warrior of Light where I expressed some of my beliefs in Satan when in an angelic or Asura like role.
Although, more directly like a spell I’ve crafted tracks intended to put people in those magical, spiritual states such as my track Mediation.
My general point with this article was to point out that not all music is inherently “magical” or “spiritual”. I don’t want to focus on what isn’t so much as what is. People might disagree on if something is or isn’t spiritual, ect. And that’s okay, for some something might not induce a magical or spiritual experience or sensation but it might in others.
The main point with that is, that those are all qualitatively different even though they have overlap, and in my opinion they are not inter-changeable terms. A lot of my articles on music in the future will often make references to these experiences or sensations, so I wanted to take the time to hammer in my thoughts on the subject.
If you got any specific questions or thoughts, or even just want to share an example of your own feel free to leave a comment. No genre is off limits for me.