The Meditative Power of Ambient Music in Painting

The Meditative Power of Ambient Music in Painting

The Therapeutic Power of Ambient Music in Painting

When Brian Eno, the artist credited with inventing ambient music, wrote in his Ambient 1: Music for Airports record that it is “designed to induce calm and space to think,” little did he know that, years later, research would affirm his inferences.

The long and slow tunes of ambient music exert therapeutic, cathartic, ethereal, contemplative, and calming effects upon the listener.

People tune in to ambient music in various situations — when needing sharp focus during work or exam revision, when trying to meditate or sleep, when doing creative work, after emotional breakdowns and stressful events, in grief, panic attacks, and just any other moment when life seems to be happening too fast and is too overwhelming.

In this article, we will discuss how ambient music’s soothing and meditative nature is beneficial for painting and how it fosters artistic creativity.

What is Ambient Music?

Ambient music is a genre focused on creating a specific tone and atmosphere rather than following traditional musical structures or rhythms. It often consists of layers of sound and may not have a distinct composition, beat, or structured melody.

More so, this type of music can incorporate natural soundscapes and the sounds of acoustic instruments, such as piano, strings, and flute, produced through a synthesizer.

The unique quality of ambient music is that it can be enjoyed through both passive and active listening. More so, ambient music allows listeners to start or stop listening to the piece at any point and still get the same experience.

As Eno describes, ambient music is envisioned to “accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

The story of Eno’s discovery of ambient music is legendary. Namely, he accidentally played a recording of harp music with the amplifier’s volume too low and one channel not working at all. Listening, Eno noticed how the low-volume music perfectly blended with the background noise of the everyday environment.

What Makes Ambient Music Beneficial in Painting

Ambient music can be whatever you want it to be, making it a perfect complement to painting or just about any creative outlet.

In his research on ambient music, artist and academic Luke Jaaniste describes it as a “pervasive all-around field, without anything being prioritized into foreground and background.” When not focused on it, ambient music can be the backdrop to our day and night; when our mind is devoted to it, the music can be an intense experience.

More so, ambient music can help elevate your painting expression.

Namely, ambient music can be whatever you want it to be or even what you may not want but inherently need.

This is because ambient music is entirely atmosphere- and mood-driven. Ambiguous in nature and lacking innate context, the genre is incredibly emotionally evocative — but there is no exact emotion it attempts to evoke.

Unlike traditional music genres, ambient music does not imply how the listener should feel about it. Instead, the music just is.

Thus, ambient music is entirely open to individual interpretation. Listening to the same piece, different people will have different responses.

Ambient music can adjust to whatever mood or environment we are in. So, if we want it to, it can take the weight off our minds, distract us from our pain, and shift our focus on the surroundings. It can disconnect us from the physical and provide an escape from the boisterous and gaudy, offering solace and sanctuary, just as a blanket we’d wrap around.

Likewise, ambient music can elicit reflection and introspection. It can make us feel nostalgic and reminiscing. The absence of specific frequencies and pauses between notes, for which ambient music is known, affects the subconscious mind and reveals a hidden world of memories, emotions, and thoughts.

So, whether you want to distance yourself from current feelings or wish to tap deep into your emotions, whether you are drawing beautiful eyes or depicting darkness in your painting, whether you are in the first stage of sketching or finalizing your piece by coloring, ambient music can deeply foster your expression on the canvas.

If you seek catharsis or escapism through painting, ambient music can help you achieve your goals.

Finally, ambient music allows the body and mind to tune in to what you are doing, ensuring a space and time for focus and creativity.

Final Words

Dr. Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and writer, near the end of his career, wrote that “in forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical ‘therapy’ to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.”

Ambient music is a background sound devoid of any specific purpose rather than allowing us to be, feel, and act as we are.

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