Music to be rubbed by
August 30, 2016 10:52 AM   Subscribe

My best friend graduated from massage school, yay! I want to get her some background music for her practice and I am at a loss for what to buy. DIFFICULTY: NO ENYA. NO WHALESONGS.

The idea is wordless or word-light calming music that isn't likely to intrude on the bodywork process that is also not cheesy and synth-y and overly new-agey. I am aware that this guideline is very vague. Maybe something piano-based? Classical guitar?

I am also considering a Pandora or Spotify paid membership with no ads, but the difficulty we're having is then finding a place to start that won't just return whale- or Enya-based stations.

Generic massage school music is mostly Enya-based and she's burnt out on it. She thinks whalesongs sound like someone dragging a metal chair across a linoleum floor, forever, and now that I know that, I can't unhear it. Part of the difficulty with buying massage music is that she has to hear it over and over and over, so it has to have a lot of listens in it.
posted by blnkfrnk to Shopping (44 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
The "Chill" stations on Spotify might give you some good fodder. I listen to them when I need to concentrate or relax and they're pretty reliable.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of my bedtime musics is by this trio: Matana. It definitely has a bunch of listens in it.
posted by xueexueg at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2016

I find Andres Segovia to be excellent classical guitar chill out music.
posted by gnutron at 10:56 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Native American flute music.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 10:58 AM on August 30, 2016

Maybe some Nils Frahm? I'm thinking particularly of Felt or Solo (the latter is a free download so you can try it out).

If piano in general seems to fit then also look at Movement by Module.
posted by shelleycat at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

A Meeting by the River by Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt.
posted by klanawa at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Check out lowercase noises. In particular, the Carry Us All Away album. It's my go-to stuff when I need to zone out and clear my mind after coding.
posted by garius at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2016

Maybe some of Sigur Ros more calm songs? (Or would that set people on edge?)
posted by cnc at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Check out Harold Budd, Marconi Union, Eluvium and Brian Eno's Ambient Series.
posted by mattholomew at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2016 [10 favorites]

Buddha Bar compilations. There are a whole bunch of them. 2015 for example.
posted by bonehead at 11:05 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe some Goldmund? Corduroy Road for instance
posted by aubilenon at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

2nding Eno's ambient stuff, Music For Airports specifically. If that ever came on while I was getting a massage I would be ecstatic.
posted by STFUDonnie at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

Maybe Zoe Keating.
posted by neushoorn at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a massage therapist in town that lets you choose whatever music you like. You can play from your phone or use their spotify. I think it's brilliant.
posted by advicepig at 11:13 AM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

The KLF Chillout album is a great 45 minute ride of a continuous composition. It's like a train ride through time, space, bleeding across musical genres to create a unified, satisfying whole. I listen to it all the time when I am having a long bath or a massage.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:14 AM on August 30, 2016

My esthetician puts on Midori, who I find very relaxing.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2016

I wonder if some of Bach's pieces for guitar would work? I remember them being very calm and melodic, and because of Bach's use of fugue and various other musical tricks, listening to them can be a little mesmerizing -- maybe helping with the calming aspects of massage?
posted by kalimac at 11:27 AM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

ENO!!! Particularly Thursday Afternoon and Neroli

Stars of the lid - Refinement of the Decline and the Tired Sounds

Maybe even Buckethead's Electric Tears (Belive it or not
posted by kbbbo at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2016

Less-traditional options:

There's a band called Lost Years that does these instrumental albums that are like 80s industrial+Giorgio Moroder synthesizer music, but in a good way. Think Drive soundtrack, not skeevy casino floor entertainment. They have a beat, they're actually a little dancey, but I find them incredibly good for concentration music. (Some of their albums might be chiller than others, I honestly just pick one and zone out so I'm not sure.) A client who dislikes chill music or whalesong might dig it.

Also Disparition, who does the amazing music and sound design for Welcome to Night Vale and adjacent podcasts.

MyNoise is my favorite of the web-based noise generators, and aside from my preferred white/pink static/fan/appliance sounds they also have some really interesting soundscapes and chimes and chants and binaural options.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on August 30, 2016

posted by rmless at 11:37 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

My massage place seems to have this, unless there is some other album of Metallica covers on solo piano. I'd also love it if they had Tycho or The Field.
posted by clavicle at 11:47 AM on August 30, 2016

Try Windham Hills music. George Winston (piano) and William Ackerman (guitar) come to mind.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:52 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding -- a gift subscription would be awesome!
posted by The otter lady at 11:53 AM on August 30, 2016

If you're looking for new age music that doesn't suck, W.A. Mathieu recorded a bunch of solo-piano or piano-and-voice stuff that's aged reall well. Good all-acoustic compositions, not tedious, tastefully recorded, no whale songs or cheesy effects.

Maybe some Penguin Cafe Orchestra?

Boards of Canada maybe? Some people might find the vocal samples offputting though.

I'm really tempted to recommend The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull, but now that I'm listening to it, it's probably still too rock-ish for this.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:03 PM on August 30, 2016

2nding Eno's ambient stuff, Music For Airports specifically. If that ever came on while I was getting a massage I would be ecstatic.

this happened to me once while i was getting a facial at a spa and i nearly squealed
posted by burgerrr at 12:07 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nthing Eno, with the specific suggestion of the Fripp & Eno album "Evening Star."
posted by saladin at 12:15 PM on August 30, 2016

Also maybe Erik Satie? He wrote that one famous thing but a lot of his piano pieces would fit the bill.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:32 PM on August 30, 2016


As a massage therapist myself, getting over the fear of percussion in massage music will lead to happier clients. And go with the Pandora / Spotify idea.
posted by MillMan at 1:06 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Recently I discovered that if you plug Youth Lagoon into Pandora you generate the ultimate in a certain sort of benign but not IQ-lowering background sound.
posted by latkes at 1:08 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

A subscription to Hearts of Space is very reasonably-priced and the music is perfect for a massage studio.
posted by jesourie at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Lots of good music suggestions.

Here's a slightly different idea: random ambient background noise from A Soft Murmur. The sliders let you adjust the amount of crackling fireplace vs rain vs crickets vs coffee shop, and it can be very soothing.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

My favourite message music ever was Joe Hisaishi's score for Spirited Away.
posted by smoke at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2016

Music for airports!!!! I don't know why I didn't think of it!

I know exactly why: I think it's creepy and offputting to be massaged by a silent stranger regardless of the music playing. I would rather they told me what they are doing and why or had a conversation with me, but this is not a majority opinion and it's not how she runs her business-- she has a real need for music, so thank you for all the suggestions.

I am leaning towards a paid account with Pandora, but one issue is that she lives in rural Alaska and doesn't always have hot-and-cold-running Internet/cell data. So I might pair the account with some CDs as backup.

I'll leave this open because the suggestions are really helpful, thanks everyone!
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2016

  • bvdub is pretty great for pink noisey ambient.
  • Silent Season is a record label specializing in deep house and ambient - particularly check out Stillpoint by Purl, Pacifica by Segue, and anything by ASC.
  • Moby just released a new collection of ambient music that he uses to try and fall asleep: longambients.
  • Susumu Yokota’s Grinning Cat may be too dynamic, but it’d be worth at least a listen.

posted by Going To Maine at 4:12 PM on August 30, 2016

The Café del Mar compilations are very relaxing.
posted by Cuke at 4:26 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Slow Dancing Society: ambient, electronic songs, very calming and ethereal.

S. Carey: beautiful organic instrumentals, with lots of piano.

Port St. Willow: dreamlike and hazy music, very textured.
posted by stellarc at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2016

Leo Kottke - Dreams and All That Stuff.
posted by epj at 7:31 PM on August 30, 2016

This is obscure, but the Inner Islands bandcamp. They're a record label out of Oakland that are on another level with this genre. So good. Seriously.

Here's some favorite tracks, but check out the albums they're from (and indeed the rest of the page):

Futures Past and Women and Children - Dragon Time
How Sweetly I am Loved - Ashan
A Rose for the White Witch - Stag Hare
posted by moons in june at 8:09 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pat Metheny
posted by luckynerd at 10:10 PM on August 30, 2016

Some artists I listen to when I'm looking for relaxing music: Seconding to check out Windham Hill artists.
posted by Aleyn at 10:44 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Silk Road Kitaro is a beautiful selection, click on some of the other links.
posted by JujuB at 11:02 PM on August 30, 2016

Soundtrack to the most relaxing massage of my life: Anugama's Shamanic Dream (first track). I see there's also Shamanic Dream II, which could be a goer.

I also find that Deep Forest's eponymous first album and Enigma's MCMXC a.D. induce super-chill states suitable for the massage ambiance.
posted by thetarium at 2:32 AM on August 31, 2016

As a massage getter, I always ask the masseuse to turn off the music as I find it distracts me from the massage experience. I don't like "new-agey" stuff, anyhow, or noodling around music. I come from a dancer's point of view so that type of music annoys me, meaning I don't enjoy the massage as much. Just my experience. I liked the massager who lets the customer choose their own music -- that's a good approach.
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:32 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Billy McLaughlin
posted by mgar at 7:21 PM on August 31, 2016

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