Pagan Music Categories
Pagan Music has many categories and genres. Listed below are some of the various styles and genres. There is a brief explanation of each genre and style and a few examples of artists who have recorded or composed music that is classified into these categories. There can be as many styles sparked by the imagination. If you don't see a category of Pagan Music and feel it needs to be included to this list please send an email with your input. All inputs are welcome to this collective as it is an ongoing project.
Pagan Liturgical Music
The music used in rituals, magick, worship, and spell- work are the liturgical music of Paganism. One term used for this genre is Functional Music, because the music serves as a function for a purpose other than musical performance. In this instance it serves as part of the religious and magickal workings. These basically fall into three sub-categories.
Chants: These are used during the ritual and magickal workings. The purpose of chants are to raise energy from the inside and outwards to direct to a focused set of goals. The goals can be to cast a circle, invoke deity, spellwork (healing, money spells, prosperity, etc.)
Meditation Music: Meditation is a procedure that directs an inward movement. It is to direct energy into the person and up to the higher self and build the inner temple. The music used for this practice is to aide in the focus. Usually the music is slow and soft and instrumental, but it can use vocal music as well as faster tempos. It all depends on the type of meditation.
Instrumental Music: Music does not have to contain text to send energy to the gods. Many drum circles and instrumental music serve the same purpose. Many times drumming is used as an accompaniment to chanting and are usually (more often than not) improvised. Instrumental music can also be any type of music. It can be an instrumental version of a chant, improvised, or abstract music. The instruments used for magickal goals can be specific to the type of magick that is being created. This is in more detail under music as a magickal tool.
This style of music is very similar to the liturgical music, however it's purpose is for performance of the music. It can be performed during ritual, but it's purpose is not to cast a circle or to create energy for a spell or invoke elements and deity. It's purpose is to honor and devote the deities and elements through performance.
Pagan Folk Music is derived from both the oral tradition of societies and the Folk Music movement of the 1960's. Many Pagans in the early days of the Neo-Pagan Movement used Irish, Celtic, and other folk songs and set them to new text to be more Pagan themed. Sometimes it may not be from a folk song, but fits in the style and mood. An early example of one of these songs is Lord of the Dance. This song was originally Christian (written by Sidney Carter) but switched to fit a Pagan- centric theme. The first Pagan recorded version of this song is by . It also uses the melody of the folk song Simple Gifts. Gwydion Pedderwen on his album Songs of the Old Religion. Issac Bonewit has done this style of music extensively. You can find many of these songs on his CDs and the text on his website Neopagan.net.
Pagan Rock Music
Rock n' Roll music inspired many Pagans to compose and to record music using Pagan text and themes. These are composed in the traditional (or not so traditional) rock n' roll beat. There are many different artists in this style of music. There is also a sub-category of Pagan Rock Music known as Heathen Rock and Metal Music. This is because many Heathens (a very different tradition) have created music to focus their traditions and beliefs.
Pagan Music and Goddess worship strikes the flame towards the teaching to children of Pagan Parents. Anne Hill, Starhawk, and Janet Baker are credited towards building this genre extensively. They have published a collective book called Circle Round. This book includes many songs geared towards children. The book includes the music in music notation and a companion CD of the music is also available. The CD is performed and recorded by Anne Hill. Others have followed in this tradition.
There has been a few in this genre composed as Pagan Music. Two pieces by James (Seumas) Gagne were composed: the Cantata For Beltain and an Oratorio on the Charge of the Goddess. You can find out more about him at his website seumasgagne.com. There is also many classical pieces that are Pagan themed and popular among many Pagans. Some of the musical compositions that are Pagan themed are Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Wagner's Operas The Ring Cycle. The film composer John Williams also composes music for the concert state. He composed a Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra called The Five Sacred Trees. This piece was inspired by Robert Graves' The White Goddess, a popular book in Wiccian Theology.