The dictionary defines Psychedelics as a class of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness that cause specific psychological, visual and auditory changes, and often a substantially altered state of consciousness. Psychedelic media tries to emulate a similar feeling of a heightened sense of reality, sometimes even leading to enlightenment or revelations. The norm is to look down upon these experiences or “trips”, but when looked at closely, they are beautiful phenomena that have influenced different forms of media in unfathomable ways.
There has been a considerate representation of psychedelics in the music industry, be it music that emulates a similar feeling or music produced as a result of them. Music by itself has quite the dynamic, stimulating effect on one’s brain, impacting it to such an extent that it can evoke emotions or revelations. Combining this with psychedelics, you get a beautiful fusion of sounds, feelings and creative inspiration, or even synesthesia in some rare cases. While drugs like LSD or DMT ‘disintegrate’ the normal functioning of the brain per se, they also induce intense subjective effects that enhance the emotions evoked by music. This facilitation happens to such an extent, that the ability of music itself to induce altered states is being actively researched.
In addition, there are multiple genres influenced primarily, but not exclusively by the psychedelic culture of the sixties. Psychedelic music emerged as psychedelic folk, psychedelic rock, acid rock, and psychedelic pop, eventually trickling into present-day electronic music genres such as acid house, trance music, and new rave.
While psychedelia prioritises autonomy and self-expression, a lot of the music aims to separate the listener from self and give in to the ‘vibe’ at the same time. All this music puts most of the emphasis on the instruments, almost trying to mimic the feeling of dissolving into the space-time continuum.
This led to an increase in the production of unusual effects in songs, like backward tapes or even odd guitar tunings, which is actively reflected in music by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys etc. These musicians also had a big hand in popularising psychedelic culture, at first indirectly and later explicitly, through their music, just as it has been reflected in psychedelic art, literature and film.