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Zen Meditations

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Album Review

In Asian countries, the hypnotic, haunting music that accompanies Buddhist activities has been around for centuries. Buddhist music (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and otherwise) existed long before the advent of recording technology, and it continues to evolve in the 21st century. One of the CDs that puts a modern spin on Buddhist music is Gerald Jay Markoe's instrumental Zen Meditations. Markoe isn't from an Asian country — he was born and raised in the U.S. — and this album isn't Asian music in the traditional sense. Markoe is considered a new age/ambient artist, although Zen Meditations is heavily influenced by the traditional Buddhist music of Asian countries. The album has a Buddhist theme (specifically, Zen Buddhism), and Markoe employs traditional Asian instruments (bells, gongs, Tibetan bowls, bamboo flutes) as well as synthesizers. The adjectives that describe traditional Buddhist music — haunting, tranquil, hypnotic — could easily be used to describe the new age/ambient/Asian hybrid that Markoe offers on this CD. As its title indicates, Zen Meditations was recorded with meditation in mind; in fact, Markoe's liner notes read like a how-to manual on the subject. But Zen Meditations doesn't necessarily have to be used for that purpose, and the music is quite enjoyable regardless of whether or not you practice Zen Buddhism.


Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Gerald Jay Markoe studied classical music at both Juilliard (B.A.) and the Manhattan School of Music (M.A.). Since the early 1960s, Markoe has studied meditation and astrology, and he specialized in translating the positions of the planets into music, often recording custom tapes based on a person's astrological sign. His first public album in 1988 was Music from the Pleiades, inspired by the famous poster of the constellation. Markoe formed his own music company, AstroMusic, to distribute his album,...
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Zen Meditations, Gerald Jay Markoe
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