Six Tips for Composing Highly Effective Music for Guided Meditations
When listening to a guided meditation, often the first thing a listener hears is the music track.
The music used is crucial to the success of the recording. If it’s pleasing to the ear, the listener will continue on, but if the track sounds amateurish, boring or discordant, the experience might end before it even begins!
Composing background music for a guided meditation might seem deceptively easy, but there is much more to it than meets the eye!
Here are some tips to assure your musical compositions are effective and engaging.
1. Key- When composing music for a prerecorded voice-over track, keep in mind that speech is also a musical element. You are an accompanist to the voiceover. Each spoken word is actually a staccato note. Look for the tone center of the voice by finding the pitch that is repeated most often. If you compose the piece in that key you will find the result is far more pleasing. (See my article on resonant frequency).
2. Tempo- The listener’s breathing and heart rate is often affected by the rhythm of the music, so keep the implied tempo down to a meditative rate of 70-100 bpm. However, try to avoid emphasizing the rhythm and keep it subtle.
3. Sounds- Play the instrument that you are most accustomed to, at least to get your ideas down.
The use of keyboard pads and long sustained tones is very useful and common in this genre, but the inclusion of acoustic elements can add warmth and animation. Because the synthesized sounds are typically tuned to the exact same frequency, the track can begin to sound boxed in because the overtones are not as complex as they could be.
4. Method- Make sure your studio space is peaceful and quiet. If you are working on a keyboard, using headphones can help bring your focus inward.
Before beginning to compose the music, spend some time getting into a relaxed, calm but attentive state of mind. This will be reflected in subtle ways in your playing and composing.
If your voiceover is pre recorded, be sure to play to it, follow the pauses and silences and accompany it as you would a singer. Trust your intuition.
5. Composition- Meditation music has its own unique set of considerations. Changes in tonality need to be subtle and gentle. The art of meditation composition is to provide enough variation and development to be interesting and beautiful without calling too much attention to itself.
Keep the dynamic range consistent, without abrupt notes and silences. The music should not include too many peaks and valleys or “musical cliffhangers.” Ie. chords or phrases that need resolution.
The primary role of the music should be to always support and enhance the spoken word.
6. Overdubs- Keeping the overdubs to few well chosen tracks is a good way to go. A primary instrument can ground the meditation and overdubs can add variation and color.
Best advice always is: keep it simple.
Jack Lee has provided meditation music to many spiritual leaders and teachers including Louise Hay, Lynn Andrews, Mary Manin Morrissey, and Wayne Dwyer as well as hundreds of creators world wide through his Royalty Free Meditation collection featured on Meditation Music Central.com