Neuroscience recently revealed that listening to relaxing music can relieve anxiety by up to 65 percent. From the mellow-suave of jazz to the vast toll of ambient drums music has the power to transport you to a completely different time and place, and that sounds damn near a superpower to me.
Hellenistic philosopher Epicurus believed that being relaxed was the ideal state of human nature. We constantly strive for the blissful nothingness of relaxation as anything beyond that would be a form of dissatisfaction or pain. This is alternatively why the Epicurean school of thought derived that we should not fear death as it is the ultimate state of nothingness and therefore peace.
While I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to die, these five masterpieces of relaxing music will have you floating through the interstellar and beyond. Close your eyes and behold the power of peace.
We have compiled the five most relaxing pieces of music ever written to calm your nerves and expunge the stress of your day to day. You’re welcome!
Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports
Undoubtedly crowned the godfather of ambient music, rarely has a single genre been so specifically accredited to one person. Brian Eno is a musical pioneer and Ambient 1: Music For Airports is his crowning jewel. Eno himself came up with the term ‘ambient’ to distance himself from the Muzak Coporation in 1978 and thus is synonymous with relaxation.
When Brian Eno was recovering from being hit by a car, a friend visiting him put on a 19th Century harp record and left the room. The speakers were at such a low setting so as to blend with the outside world and Eno was too weak to get up and change the volume; thus ambient music was born.
Easily to be confused for background music, Eno creates remarkably interesting tones and timing so as to create a complete sense of placid tranquility.
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
Arguably the most famous jazz record of all time, Miles Davis‘ Kind Of Blue not only embodies the lucid nirvana of truly good jazz, but the epitome of improvisation. Davis at the time was at odds with the chordal complexity and increasingly convoluted state of jazz. Thus he desired to write an album that was a complete return to form and melody.
Scribbling out sheet music one hour before the session, Davis assembled the sextet of saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb, and pianist Bill Evans. They cut two takes of each track and that was that.
It’s smoky miasma and late night ambience are the exact expression of elegance. It is 46 minutes of pure improvisation and sophistication and remains to this day a true example of musical heaven and some of the most relaxing music ever recorded.
Claude Debussy – suite bergamasque
While this has mostly been selected for the third act, Clair de Lune, suite bergamasque from Claude Debussy is a masterpiece through and through. Debussy was a French composer from the turn of the 20th Century and is one of the most influential songwriters of the time. He is often seen as the first Impressionist composers although he fervently rejected the term.
In 1902, at the age of 40 Debussy achieved international fame with his only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande. The suite bergamasque was Debussy’s most famous piano suite. Undoubtedly a mature piece of composition it is one of the most fascinating, entrancing piano works I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing and is inspired by a Paul Verlaine poem of the same name.
Sigur Ros – Liminal Sleep
The post-rock giant that is Sigur Ros has made some the most undeniably beautiful music of our time. Once described by a befuddled critic as sounding like ‘god weeping tears of gold in heaven, like a glacier sweeping through the harsh icelandic landscape,’ their second album Ágætis byrjun shocked the world upon release due to it’s sheer originality.
Liminal Sleep is an endless Sigur Ros playlist created by Jónsi, Alex Somers and Paul Corley, reaching through their entire works to create a sensory collection of turntable crackles, ghostly choirs and transcendent strings.
“We like the fact that sleep remains defiantly mysterious; something we all do – all need to do – but can’t ever get fully inside.” explains Jónsi. “This playlist is a modest attempt to mirror the journey of a sleep cycle, with its curves, steady states and natural transitions.”
The Grateful Dead – American Beauty
One of the most beautiful folk-rock records of all time. The Grateful Dead‘s American Beauty is a landmark album for song craft and aural beauty.
While it would be easy to create this entire list derived of ambient albums, American Beauty has earned it’s spot due to the sheer poetic vehemence of Robert Hunter, the beautiful simplicity of Jerry Garcia‘s musical arrangement and it’s enduring legacy.
The simple poignancy of American Beauty is to take life as it comes and appreciate change. These songs will cast a spell about the listener luring, them to spin about the room with a smile and embrace the day.