A sub-genre of ambient music that was prominent in the s. New Age typically is a slow, meditative music with long, drawn-out notes and chords, usually with little or no percussion and often not played in strict tempo, but remaining melodic and mostly eschewing harsh or atonal sounds. As the genre arose, around , the first performers did not use electronic instruments, but a subset of performers quickly arose that used synthesizers primarily or exclusively. The polyphonic synthesizers of the decade proved particularly suitable to this style of music, and many of the performers transitioned to synth from some other instrument. New Age music was associated with certain spiritual and quasi-religious practices, such as associating healing properties with certain types of crystals and candle flames, and questionable varieties of alternative medicine and psychiatric treatment.
New Age is applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices which rapidly grew in the Western world during the s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of spiritual or Mind, Body, Spirit and rarely use the term New Age themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement , although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.
Within the broad movement of new-age music , neoclassical new-age music , or instrumental pop , is influenced by and sometimes also based upon baroque or classical music , especially in terms of melody and composition. Many artists within this subgenre are classically trained musicians. Although there is a wide variety of individual styles, neoclassical new-age music is generally melodic, harmonic, and instrumental, using both traditional musical instruments as well as electronic instruments. Neoclassical new-age music composer Chris Field has created neoclassical music for many movie trailers for years. Mannheim Steamroller is a neoclassical band that has been very successful.
New-age music is broadly defined as relaxing, even "meditative", music that is primarily instrumental. Unlike relaxing forms of classical music, new-age music makes greater use of electronica and non-Western instrumentation. There is some debate on what can be considered "new-age music"; for example several musicians in Celtic music or Smooth jazz have expressed annoyance at being labeled "new-age musicians". For more on that debate, see the article on new-age music.