New Age music

Someone wrote to object to the presence of “New Age” on a site devoted to hermits, a contradiction in the eyes of the correspondent. Hermitary simply chronicles hermits throughout history, of whatever tradition or persuasion. This is how one can come to understand such a universal phenomenon as eremitism — universal yet elusive.

As to “New Age,” I assumed the correspondent meant the Hermit of the Tarot, if not anything else that was not Chrisitan or Western. Besides the fact that eremitism is not the exclusive provenance of Christian or Western history by any means, I pointed out the following interesting fact:

In 1994, the best-selling music CD in the New Age category was Chant, the album of Gregorian chant performed by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain. The recordings had been made decades earlier, the tapes rediscovered and digitized, and a disc released to a public eager to hear something “New Age.” Many subsequent discs were released as well.

The cliche that people are looking for a form of spirituality or just tranquility in seeking out “New Age” music is amply confirmed by this example. It is one of those historical ironies that the Catholic Church pretty much abandoned Gregorian chant at a time when secular and other people were discovering it. But this demonstrates that music (at least some of it) can transcend cultures and even “marketing” categories.

The correspondent never wrote back.