What is Psychedelic Music?

Very popular in 1960s America, psychedelic music attempted to replicate hallucinogenic experiences for its listeners through the incredible power of music. The music developed in the context of an underground drug culture is a rebellious and creative population. Psychedelic music has heavily experimented with instruments and studio sounds and has made use of oriental instruments like the Indian Sitar. Music has given rise to some of the most acclaimed bands and artists in the world in history and has also inspired established groups to create iconic records.

  1. Overview and features –

Psychedelic music included several genres, including rock, pop and folk. The music was geared towards achieving other states of consciousness, particularly those obtained through the use of drugs including lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and marijuana. The music was intended to invoke a psychedelic experience and to achieve this, exotic instruments like tabla and sitar were often used. The recordings make use of studio recording techniques to create surreal sounds including filtering, extreme reverb, phasing, extended delay loops and multiple repetitions. Music texts often mention drugs or drugs directly and indirectly and are long, intricate, capricious, esoteric and are informed by literature.

  1. Origins –

Psychedelic music has developed into the folk and blues music scene, mainly in the United States and followed by musicians in the United Kingdom. The development of music corresponded to the growing popularity of the psychedelic subculture, where folk and jazz musicians began experimenting with drugs. Psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, which have induced mental alteration experiences, have become popular and drug addicts like Owsley Stanley, who created an LSD factory in San Francisco, promoting use of drugs. Music has also been influenced by non-Western musical forms, especially those from India. Some American cities have been fundamental to the development of music including New York, San Francisco and California.

  1. Dissemination and development –

From the cradle of music in San Francisco, it has spread to other parts of the United States. New York, Los Angeles and Texas were home to their share of psychedelic acts. By 1967, music had found its way into the popular music scene in the United Kingdom. A growing hippie movement, characterized by long hair and wild clothes, has embraced music as a symbol of non-compliance. Psychedelic music subsequently spread to other parts of Europe, inspiring numerous bands in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Asia, Central America, Latin America and Australia have further embraced music and strengthened its international importance.

  1. Noteworthy artists –

Pioneering music bands include 13th Floor Elevators, Holy Modal Rounders in New York City and the Grateful Dead based in San Francisco. Other bands included Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Blues Project, Red Krayola, The Byrds, Pink Floyd, Big Brother and the Yardbirds. Established groups including the Beatles and the Beach Boys have also released their own discs inspired by psychedelic music.

  1. Greater importance and inheritance –

Psychedelic music was a social and musical experimentation that rebelled against the forms of creativity accepted by the mainstream. Music is born from underground subcultures that revolve around the use of drugs and non-compliance. Music has revolutionized creative expressions and paved the way for other musical forms such as punk, heavy metal and progressive rock. Psychedelic music continues to inspire many artists and musical groups even today.

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