As time goes on, I’ll gradually be working through the list of Reverie “Massage Mix” playlists shown below (indicated by catalog numbers beginning with “MM”) and getting the tracklists entered in traditional tabular form, each on its own individual page. Catalog numbers displayed with an underlined link can be clicked to go to the page with the playlist.
Approximately 50 playlists have been created in the Reverie series so far over the years I’ve been doing this. Recently (July 2018), I’ve finally gotten my rear in gear and am now moving ahead in my spare time entering and posting the backlog of playlists, after having worked my way through many other site-building tasks (and just life challenges) that required attention first. As a reminder, you’ll see that added rows have been reserved below in the catalog for the additional playlists to come. Check back periodically, as I plan to get the remainder progressively posted over the rest of the summer and fall.
Since I can’t currently offer these for resale, they are do-it-yourself playlists to keep things legal. But if you appreciate music with substance to it by more accomplished performers as much as I do — if you’re tired of the typically insipid and boring froth conventionally marketed as yoga and massage music — it’s not much of a hurdle. Just download a given playlist’s tracks from your favorite online source, then create the playlist on your end in iTunes or another playback application. Alternatively, set up the playlist tracks for playback in your Spotify account or a similar music streaming service.
|Cat. No.||Artist or Genre||Time||Album(s) or Artist(s)|
|MM1||Vangelis||63:48||Mask, Chariots of Fire, Themes, China, Voices, 1492, El Greco, Oceanic, The City, Direct|
|MM2||Vangelis||71:58||Spiral, Oceanic, Soil Festivities, Private Collection, El Greco, Opera Sauvage, Direct, Mythodea, Antarctica, Voices, The City|
|MM3||World||61:45||Deep Forest, Sounds from the Ground|
|MM4||Steve Miller||42:17||Born 2 Be Blue|
|MM5||Chris Spheeris||56:30||Mystic Traveller|
|MM6||Carlos Nakai & William Eaton||70:39||Ancestral Voices|
|MM7||Carlos Nakai & Peter Kater||46:47||Natives|
|MM8||Carlos Nakai & Peter Kater||57:51||Migration|
|MM9||Carlos Nakai, Peter Kater, et al||72:00||Honorable Sky, Through Windows & Walls|
|MM10||Rock Vocal Harmonies||57:51||Paul Simon; Bonnie Raitt; Crosby, Stills & Nash|
|MM11||Asian / Indian / World / Soundtrack||67:40||Nitin Sawhney, Plaid, Bliss, Ayurveda, Sonic Tribe & A.B. Didgeridoo, Ishq, Natacha Atlas & Transglobal Underground, Jonn Serrie, Paul Adams, Michael Brook, Attic Tree|
|MM12||Eclectic||53:16||Asche & Spencer (Monster's Ball soundtrack), Robert Rich, Wendy Carlos, Jeff Pearce, Chick Corea/Gary Burton, Constance Demby, Iasos, Mark Isham, Mychael Danna|
|MM13||Mannheim Steamroller||41:40||Fresh Aire, Fresh Aire II, Fresh Aire III, Fresh Aire V, Fresh Aire VI|
|MM14||Indian||71:38||Ustad Sultan Khan & Joe Claussell, Chintan & Prem Joshua, Bahramji & Maneesh De Moor, Bahramji & Masti, Midival Punditz, Prem Joshua, Manish Vyas, Shreya Ghoshal & Sriram|
|MM15||Kevin Keller plus New Age||76:17||Kevin Keller (first half of playlist), Karen Olson, Tom Barabas, Dino, Steven Halpern, Maxence Cyrin, Peter Davison, Deuter, Bodhi|
|MM16||Smooth Jazz / New Age / Soundtrack||66:12||Intakt, Tweak, Vanessa Daou, Hird, Seafoam, Jean-Luc Ponty, Mark Dwane, Juju Orchestra, Ulver, Richard Burmer|
|MM17||Blues – Little Axe / R.L. Burnside||66:49||Intro track by R.L. Burnside, the rest Little Axe (Slow Fuse, The Wolf that House Built)|
|MM18||Paul Horn||65:42||Connections, Brazilian Images, Traveler, The Altitude of the Sun|
|MM19||Thomas Newman||37:23||American Beauty (soundtrack)|
|MM20||Yulara||60:29||All Is One|
|MM21||Smooth Jazz||67:04||Espen Horne, Stigmato Inc, Jean-Luc Ponty, Palle Mikkelborg, Jazzmasters, Rosalia de Souza, dZihan & Kamien, Intakt, LTJ Bukem, Michael Whalen|
|MM22||Celtic||61:29||Loreena McKennitt, Maggie Sansone, Hilary Stagg, Andreas Vollenweider, Patrick Ball, Sue Richards|
|MM23||Celtic||68:35||Maggie Sansone, Loreena McKennitt, Hilary Stagg, Patrick Ball|
All notes pertain to the individual playlists, not the overall playlist catalog.
- Total time is the readout from iTunes, i.e., excluding inter-track gaps that may be added when burning CDs, depending on your settings. Adding individual track times will give a different figure that can vary by several seconds from the iTunes readout.
- Burning CDs (for those still doing that): Total time on most playlists has been kept enough below 80 minutes to prevent overrunning space when burning to an 80-minute CD and adding a two to four-second inter-track gap. In cases where the total time exceeds this length, I’ve indicated a candidate track or two for elimination to bring the time below the 80-minute limit.
- Track volume adjustment: With massage playlists in particular, it’s important that the volume of individual tracks is consistent from one to the next so any given track is not overpowering in comparison to the others. The open-source ReplayGain algorithm that takes into account perceived loudness (by the human ear) rather than basing volume adjustment on peak normalization is probably the most sophisticated of these that’s available for consumer use. While iTunes’ built-in Sound Check algorithm reportedly uses a similar method, in my experience it doesn’t work nearly as well.
- Two popular applications, with versions for both Windows and Mac, that employ the ReplayGain implementation are iVolume and beaTunes. Both work in concert with iTunes by changing the ID3 tag and iTunNorm tag data used by Sound Check to adjust playback volume. With this approach, the adjustments are undoable and don’t change anything in the actual sound files themselves.
- “Edited” (in Notes column): This means musical passages that are uncreatively repetitive, or jarring — to my ears — have been removed with a sound-editing application. Remaining portions were then spliced back together on beat and on measure for a seamless transition. When sections that begin or end a track have been removed, a fade-in or fade-out was typically added, respectively, to the beginning or end as well.
- I have done fewer and fewer of these track edits as time as gone on — you’ll find them mostly in the earlier playlists. (The playlists have been sequentially numbered in the order I created them.) Performing the edits can be time-consuming, and these days I’m being less perfectionistic in the interest of getting more playlists put together and not holding up the train.
- For another thing, particularly given that I did not save any notes for which portions of tracks might have been cut out when doing the editing, there is now no way to indicate for others how to reconstruct the edits without me starting from scratch with the process I use to map them out. And, only a very few perfectionistic people like myself would have either the time or inclination to do that anyway.
- So… the heck with it. What I plan to do at some point with the early playlists where tracks have been edited is to go back and figure out song substitutions that can be done to create an alternate version of the playlist. While I doubt they’ll be as good as the originals — at least by my standards — I’ll try to sacrifice as little as possible in terms of listenability and their “star rating,” so to speak.
I would love to hear your suggestions for music from which to create new Massage Mix playlists. By far the hardest part of putting the playlists together is not sequencing music that blends together well to make up a mix, but just getting enough candidate tracks together of a given genre, and with accomplished-enough musicianship, to start from.
For example, when looking through the iTunes Store and sampling tracks suggested by its algorithm, or picking through tracks on Spotify pulled up by genre or search results, the results are pretty dismal. I would guess I listen to or scan-skip-fast-forward through 25 to 50 tracks for every one I decide to put on my Wishlist for later review in building mixes.
Points to keep in mind when suggesting tracks
- The music should be listenable for a wide range of people. If it’s too specialized or so narrow it takes a highly trained or conditioned or fanatical ear to appreciate it, it won’t make a good massage mix.
- Sought-after qualities: The music should be relaxing and mesmerizing, with some energy to it but not too intense. Beautifully melodic, compositionally accomplished music by virtuoso instrumentalists is a real bonus.
- I’m interested mostly in instrumental music by artists with not only good technical proficiency, but who can creatively interpret or compose melodically and harmonically inspired music as well.
- Certain vocal music may be appropriate. The above said, I’ll occasionally put together sequences of vocal music, but the artist(s) must have good vocal chops or compositional skills in most cases. No Dylan-esque or Tom Waits-style tobacco-ravaged or croaking-frog voices.
- Musical repetition and lack of compositional inspiration are the enemies. Music that is overly repetitive, such as that with sustained ostinato that does not undergo some kind of interesting development or elaboration as the piece progresses is a huge pet peeve of mine.
- I like electronic music if it is inspired, but most electronic musicians today are highly formulaic and lazy, relying far too much on endlessly repeating lines that may well constitute an engaging lick over the brief span of several measures of listening, but become incredibly boring when regurgitated ad infinitum. Electronic textures, while novel and very worthy of exploration, are not enough to hold interest by themselves and quickly sound stale if repeated to death.
- When you’re lying on the massage table, music that’s uninspired or repetitive can get boring or grating very quickly. But you are stuck there and can’t just get up to skip to the next track when the therapist is in the middle of working out issues in your muscles.
- Someone like Vangelis or Thomas Newman who’s a film composer or otherwise talented enough to employ electronics in orchestral fashion is my standard for any kind of electronic music. (It doesn’t matter to me how popular or how much of a darling someone may be in the mainstream music press. For example: Moby? No.)
- Electronic music aside, anything else that’s overly repetitive, insipid, or lacking in compositional interest won’t make the cut either. While I very much like new age-style music by accomplished and creatively inspired instrumentalists (it was what got me into creating massage playlists in the first place), 90% of the genre puts me to sleep. And that was why I began making my own mixes of it instead.
- Genres not considered. No punk, hip-hop/rap, or Top-40 pap. Music that’s primarily social commentary, with the music itself given second shrift or treated like a poor second cousin, isn’t of interest. I like jazz that is more nontraditional, but what I call traditional “string-bass jazz” — where the emphasis seems to be on improvisation only for the sake of improvisation or scale-exploration that’s not melodically listenable except to someone with a very deep background in jazz — isn’t my cup of tea, nor that of most of the target audience here.
- My favorite genres are often what I would call “edge cases” that straddle more than one classification. The genres below are not the only types of music I like but make up a good deal of the current Massage Mix playlist catalog. Note: These follow no particular order. (Example artists of each genre in parentheses.)
- World/jazz (Regis Gizavo)
- World/new age (Carlos Nakai, Peter Kater, Paul Horn, Lost At Last/One At Last)
- World/folk-instrumental (Maggie Sansone, Loreena McKennitt)
- World/folk-vocal (Fatoumata Diawara)
- New age (Deuter, at his best at least)
- Jazz (Chick Corea/Gary Burton duo efforts)
- Solo jazz piano (Jessica Williams)
- Jazz/vocal (Michael Franks)
- Jazz/rock (Steely Dan, Donald Fagen)
- Classical/new age (Kevin Keller)
- Classical/new age piano (Michael Dulin)
- Classical piano concertos (Bach, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, etc.)
- Classical/electronic/film composers (Thomas Newman)
- Electronic/orchestral (Vangelis)
- Ambient/blues (Little Axe)
- Ambient/psybient/psytrance (Entheogenic or Shpongle at their best, though both can be too repetitive, depending on the track)
I am on the massage table once every couple of weeks, and always appreciate worthwhile new musical material. I can’t guarantee I’ll use any of your suggestions, but I’ll definitely consider those that are thoughtful, and would be grateful for the opportunity to look into how they might be made into more Massage Mix playlists.
Many others who receive regular therapeutic or deep-tissue massage, too, would no doubt be thankful for additional music that goes beyond the usual run-of-the-mill massage, yoga, and spa fluff. That goes double for the massage therapists and other bodywork practitioners themselves. Thank you!
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