Getting a Massage isn’t just about having your sore muscles rubbed. It’s a total sensory experience from every angle, designed to achieve one goal: set up optimal conditions for the relaxation response so a whole list of positive physiological changes can occur. How a room looks, smells, the temperature, coziness of the table, and sounds all add or detract from this overall experience.
One often overlooked element is that last one: sound. Apart from trying to eliminate the loud extra noises from outside a treatment room, music is always a part of my session. I know what you’re thinking. New Age Music. Waterfalls and harps and rainbows. Classic, expected, nature sounds.
You would be wrong.
I literally listen to music a minimum of 6 hours every day that I’m seeing clients. Nature sounds make me have to use the ladies’. I also find them as relaxing as my clients and have a difficult time focusing to do my job and not zone out. Not helpful, and definitely not what my clients are paying for. Add to that the professional musicians I see regularly, and I like to make it a challenge to find new and interesting sounds to incorporate into the sessions.
I get asked “who’s that playing right now?”, and many clients report later purchasing and exploring more of the artists they hear while on my table. It’s to the point where I’ve named particular playlists after clients and try to find new tracks to add for them individually.
Here is a short list of my (current) top 5 artists for Massage. Click on the name for a video sample. WARNING: This is not your Mamma’s music. If it is, she has good taste.
Takénobu (aka: Nick Takénobu Ogawa)
Takénobu, which means “Iron-Will” in Japanese, grew up in rural Vermont where he started taking cello lessons when at age 6. At 18, he get bored of traditional classical music, and branched out into bluegrass, blues, and other non-traditional music for the cello.
What I love about it: the vibration and deep sound of electric cello is really soothing. So is his voice, incidentally. The diversity of genres comes through in his music making it unique and interesting.
2. Iron & Wine
I have a PandoraOne station based on this guy. Samuel Beam, now living in Texas, has a distinctive ‘throw back’ sound that takes you to a golden age of sound.
What I love about it: Other than the huge range of new music this station has exposed me to, I though this band was from the 60s/70s when I first heard them. I loved them instantly.
3. Melody Gardot
Growing up in Philadelphia, she began taking music lessons at age nine, and was playing piano in local lounges by the time she was 16, and it shows.
What I love about it: A little bit of heartache with a vintage jazzy sound, this is one of my faves (hence making it to this list). In my opinion, Melody is the better alternative to Adele, whom I also love.
4. Buddha Bar compilations (14 albums to-date)
“Electro-Ethnic rhythms and tribal sounds” is how this series has been described. I competely agree. Split between ‘dinner’ and ‘drink’ discs, you get a choice of more loungey sound or more upbeat club-like tracks to fit either mood.
What I love about it: This is as close to new-age as I'm gonna get. It has a vibe and funkyness below the nature sounds, which are used sparingly on most of the albums.
5. Sting – songs from the labyrinth
Yep, the Sting is a regular on my song rotation. Not the Police-style Sting, the Medieval romantic sounds of Sting. That’s right, Sting did a medieval cover album of the 1600s bard John Dowland.
What I love about it: It’s unexpected, it’s lovely, and something completely different. It's Sting, but many people can't tell it's Sting. And well, it's Sting.
Here are some requests I’ve gotten in the past: Frank Sinatra, AC/DC, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, cats purring (yes, there is a whole album of cats purring!).
I’ve love to hear your top lists for music that feeds your soul (read: songs you find relaxing).