The term “psychedelic” originates from the Greek word “Psyche” which means “Soul-Revealing”. Psychedelia is a subculture of music and art derived from psychedelic experiences. The psychedelic culture is known to be associated with surreal neurotic experiences that leave you feeling larger than life.1960s is considered the year of Genesis for psychedelic art, music, and culture. The art associated with psychedelia makes use of distorted images, colors dissolving into the full VIBGYOR spectrum. The music of the 1960s laid brick for all psychedelic art and culture. The sound of psychedelia is a vast plasma of varied tonal experiences, yet the core feel of the all psychedelic sound have similar audio-visual outcomes. There are various genres that have embraced psychedelia and helped cultivate it into what it is today. Let’s take a walk down amnesia lane.
- Psychedelic Rock - The very first PsyRock bands would make use of distorted electric guitar, electronic and acoustic sound effects. The tonal quality would be kept reverberant with moderate to little compression. Some of the early pioneers of psychedelic rock music would also incorporate elements of Indian music like the sitar, tabla etc. Some major examples of PsyRock bands and artists are Pink Floyd, The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane etc.
- Psychedelic Pop - This genre made psychedelic music a household name and revealed the happier more meditative side of psychedelia. Psy pop music was born around the late 1960s and started peaking in the 1970s. They would make use of major scales, using happier timbres of sound. Fuzz guitars, tape manipulation and backward recorded harmonies were a signature style of PsyPop. Some significant examples of PsyPop are The Beatles, Beach Boys etc
- Acid Jazz - Also known as club jazz, this is a music genre that incorporates elements of jazz, soul, and psychedelia. Born late in the mid-80s, this genre took the music virtuoso world by surprise. The sounds of psychedelia mixed with the improvisational skill set of jazz musicians were the most technically potent musical mix of proficiency and feel. Some famous examples of acid jazz artists/groups are Species, Galliano, The Brand New Heavies, Incognito.
- Trance - Electronic psychedelic music born in the early 80s. Christened “trance”, this genre of music was born from the UK rave scene. The primary instruments used were keyboards, synthesizers, drum machines and samplers. Cradling between tempos of 110 to 160 BPM (beats per minute) the trance sounds consisted of repeated melodic phrases, a steady and solid low-frequency backbeat, peaks and drops according to different stylistic sub genres. Probable antecedents were Paul Van Dyk, Jam And Spoon etc.
Irrespective of such a vast difference in genres, tonal quality, employed skill sets, influences and technology, the core of all psychedelic music remains true to its value. What is psychedelic Music? A surreal, psychosomatic, audio-visual experience that opens your doors of perception and broadens your horizon.