Editor's Note: Ben Tatlow isn't just someone who wants to write about Christian ambient music; he's actively make it as part of the duo band Salt of the Sound. He has a fantastic, holistic perspective on the genre, and we're delighted to learn more about it through this exclusive column. And hey, go check out his band's new album, Lent, Vol. 1.
What Is Christian Ambient Music?
In my last column, we explored a bit of the background to Christian ambient music, looking at when this genre might be experienced, and why it might be an important aid to personal prayer or meditation.
As someone who produces Christian ambient music (alongside my wife Anita, as Salt Of The Sound), we're often asked in interviews and conversations with friends what the genre of music we write is. Typically, our response is to use words such as "calm" or "reflective," and to describe the places where the music might be heard—personal or church prayer time, or maybe background music to a relaxing evening.
But it has occurred to me that this is perhaps underselling a growing and increasingly relevant genre of Christian music, especially given the huge appetite across media platforms (especially Spotify and YouTube) for reflective music to accompany times of prayer and meditation. Just search for "Christian prayer music" or similar phrases on YouTube and you'll get the picture!
So today we ask, what is Christian ambient music? Largely instrumental, featuring synthesizers and organic textures and instruments in equal measure, the fundamental characteristics of the music are softness, depth, and the fostering of a calm and meditative spirit. Where there are vocals, these are more of an instrumental texture rather than a focal point of the music.
You will no doubt have heard many relaxing instrumental versions of popular Christian songs and hymns, albums by Holy Communion Instrumental Duo and Eric Nordhoff being beautiful examples, and while these are certainly a part of the Christian ambient scene, they really do just scratch the surface in terms of the variety, originality, and breadth of music available.
As a way of experiencing a broad selection of Christian ambient music for yourself, we have compiled a Spotify playlist featuring artists such as Simon Wester, Carinthia, Elskavon, Salt Of The Sound, Where The Good Way Lies, Andy Hunter, and more.
As much of this music is instrumental, a question that I've contemplated for a long time is whether the Christian-nature of the music is important or even relevant. Just as in the wider Christian music scene, the setting apart of the music in relation to secular genres is certainly a consideration that many artists struggle with. Indeed, many of the artists featured in the Spotify playlist do not characterize their music explicitly as "Christian." However, there is something important for me, and I believe for many others, in knowing that the heart behind the music that one uses for prayer and meditation is Christ-centered, helping center the experience, and bringing a closeness with God.
In future installments of this column, I'll be connecting with some of the artists whose works could be considered to form part of the Christian ambient music scene. If there are any particular artists or bands that you'd like for us to feature, or if you have ideas for other articles you'd be interested in reading as part of this exploration of Christian ambient music, please do comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wishing you peace and love wherever you are today.
Ben Tatlow is a producer and one-half of Salt Of The Sound. Alongside his wife Anita, they write music for times of prayer and reflection: their new EP In Prayer is out now and was described by NewReleaseToday as leading the listener "into a place of meditation and rest." They also curate a weekly email-based devotional series, entitled Monday Morning Meditations .
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