Psychedelic Music

Psychedelic music emerged in the mid-1960’s following greater availability of drugs like LSD. The genre was very popular in the late 60’s and has had a huge influence on music since. The music often contains exotic instrumentation, particularly the sitar, complex song structures, surreal lyrics and long instrumentals. Effects such as feedback, wah wah, backward tapes, phasing, and extreme reverb are often used to create a sense of disorientation and recreate the feeling of being high.

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The Beatles introduced many characteristics of psychedelic music into the mainstream. They used guitar feedback on I Feel Fine and the sitar on Norwegian Wood. Their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is regularly cited as one of the greatest psychedelic albums of all time. 1966 saw the emergence of blues rock bands such as Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, whose long guitar solos would become a key feature of the genre. The UK Underground scene in North London produced several psychedelic rock artists, including Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and Hawkwind. The genre also influenced folk music, with artists like The Byrds, Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane all exploring psychedelic folk.

Psychedelic music was the soundtrack to the hippie revolution, which incorporated art, music, drugs, sexual freedom and politics. The Summer Of Love in 1967 saw 100,000 people gather in San Francisco as a cultural rebellion, as well as The Monterey Pop Festival. The 1969 Woodstock Festival featured many major psychedelic acts and is widely considered the peak of the genre.

The genre has had a huge influence on later music, and there are many modern classic psychedelic albums, such as Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and everything by Death In Vegas.

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