10 Instrumental Tracks for Your Next Devotional Gathering

In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah has said “We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high” and  I’m sure you have all experienced this to be true at times while listening to certain music. The emotions and thoughts that music can engender in heart, mind and soul can at times be truly sublime. Now combine this with the blessed words of the Holy Messengers in a reflective atmosphere and its effects can become soul-stirring.

Over the last 8 years that we’ve been holding a monthly public devotional event called Soul Food, we have learnt how the accompaniment of music to the Holy Writings can truly uplift the atmosphere.

There is a vast ocean of beautiful music that can be used to assist. In selecting the right background music it needs to fulfil its purpose of uplifting the writings rather than overpowering it. Also the appropriate feel of music to match the tone of the quotes being read is also important. I have found that often movie sound tracks are ideal, as they tell a story and are often longer in length .

Below I have compiled a list of 10 tracks we have used in Soul Food that I would recommend as a good start for your next series of devotionals. The first five are taken from motion pictures, all of which I would also recommend to watch, and the last five are a range of music by different composers. The links for where you can purchase these tracks are also attached.

So whats next? Just pick some beautiful Writings on a particular theme, invite a few friends over and see over time what effect the regular gathering of reading the writings accompanied by music can have.You could even combine some live music but this is a good start.

I would love to hear of your recommendations of music that you have found effective for devotionals. Please post them in the comments section below.

1. Home (Part I) – by Armand Amar – Home, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

One of many tracks that can be used from this album. Armand Amar is a composer based in Paris who’s well known for his film scores and dance pieces. Amar was born in Jerusalem in 1953 and raised in Morocco. The motion picture would also have to be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen based on the environment. A must watch!!

 

 

 

2. A Small Measure Of Peace – by Hans Zimmer – The Last Samurai, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Hans Zimmer’s score for Edward Zwick’s samurai epic The Last Samurai mixes his own densely composed style with Japanese instruments and melodies, resulting in a brooding, atmospheric collection of music. Shakuhachi and other flutes, koto, and taiko drums make their presence known throughout the score, most effectively on compositions like “A Way of Life”, which begins as a reflective duet for flute and strings before swelling into an ominous but majestic melody.

 

 

3. April – by Thomas Newman – Revolutionary Road, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The film’s score is centered on piano and strings, but guitar, flute, and percussion also appear.

 

 

 

 

4. Silk Road – by Tan Dun & Yo Yo Ma – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Superb! As with the movie, an outstanding example of composition and storytelling, this time by composer Tan Dun. The music themes flow from romance, to battle, to mournfulness, to beautiful love song, all interwoven in a haunting, oriental style. The precision and depth of sound by the orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma are wonderful. The percussion section deserves special praise for delivering sounds you’ll hear nowhere else.

 

 

 

5. Blue Morgan (End Credits) – by Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Clint Eastwood’s self-penned score for his Oscar-winning boxing drama, Million Dollar Baby, is as quietly affecting as the film itself. It’s gentle and unobtrusive, but deeply cut with melancholy and despair.

 

 

 

 

6. Window – by The Album Leaf – In A Safe Place

 The Album Leaf is the solo project of Jimmy LaValle, a San Diego-based songwriter who began recording solo material one year after forming the post-rock band Tristeza. Inspired by a number of genres — classical, jazz, and post-rock among them — LaValle constructed his own songs in a similarly eclectic manner, utilizing everything from ambient noise to field recordings to radio transmissions.

 

 

 

7. Longing/Love – by George Winston – Autumn

Self-described “rural folk piano” player George Winston was among the earliest and most successful proponents of the genre of contemporary instrumental music later dubbed new age.

 

 

 

 

8. Spiegel im Spiegel: 1 –  by Sergej Bezrodny & Vladimir Spivakov – Pärt: Alina

Spiegel im Spiegel: 1 is one of my favourite songs! It’s a song that has enough space to allow the listener to fill it with his own emotions, but also his failings to live up to the beauty it presents.

 

 

 

 

9.  2/1 – by Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports

Genius is defined as someone who comes along and adds something to a style that would not have happened without them. Brian Eno is therefore technically a genius, as the entire Ambient genre may not have existed without him.

 

 

 

10. Sexfaldur – by Amiina – Kurr

The group Amina (later changing its name to Amiina), is an experimental quartet, merging violins and cellos with ambient electronics.

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Discussion 5 Comments

  1. Dear Bahái friends, Allah ´u ´Abhá!

    Yes, some background music of an elevated, ethereal nature may be condusive to lift even more the hearts up the divine ladder, but for some like myself who are musicians it may be distractive in that we find our attention divided possibly thinking of the period, the composer, and/or evaluating the musician/vocalist, ensemble, etc., etc., so I personally would prefer to concentrate totally on the prayers/writings being recited.

    However, a winning combination is when prayers are intoned, chanted, or set to music with the greatest delicacy and reverance. If you´ve heard Saphira Ramesfar singing Hidden Words #14–” O Son of Man! Thou art My dominion…” on u-tube, then this is one excellent example of joining the sacred word with melody.

    Thanks for asking for a comment.

    Jack Frasunkiewicz, Brazil

  2. I love to listen to piano music while I pray and I’ve found a great free podcast on iTunes called “Music to Pray By”. Such a wonderful resource!

  3. I think this is a great list for devotional interludes (rather than played over/behind a reader, as I agree with Jack who commented above, that sometimes music can be a diversion or distraction to the Holy Word or other reading). Besides looking for beautiful melodies, another thing I look for is ‘real’ music, produced and performed by real musicians rather than cheap synths. I believe there is something inherently and spiritually infectious in hearing a skilled musician perform. I also prefer to hear full pieces, the way the composer intended, rather than a sloppy hand-fade-out because someone (well-intentioned but…) chose a piece that was too long or decided we have all heard enough.

    Thank you so much Nima, for compiling this great list and for posting links to purchase the music, thereby supporting the music industry to continue to produce more beautiful music. Purchasing music is ethical and lawful and just, whilst so-called ‘sharing’ music is merely stealing from the presumed-rich to give to the presumed-poor. (My suggestion to those who think like this is; buy your poor friend a copy of the music, as you would buy, not steal, them a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates)…

    So Nima, you have set a good example here in more ways than one. Many smiles.

  4. GREAT BLOG POSTING! Thank you so much!
    I love providing music to play under devotionals.
    It really brings a new feeling to the words and opens my heart and mind when listening to them!

    MICHAEL BACON
    http://www.michaelbaconmusic.com/music/
    He provides all his music for free for all to enjoy! Great range of music.
    I’ve had great use of the instrumental tracks from the PBS series “THE BUDDAH” and even looped them together in Garage Band to extend the time.

    1. little follow up…Just came across 9 STAR MEDIA
      http://9starmedia.com/bahai-devotional-music

      Lots of inspirational-instrumental only selections by filtering under Genre “Instrumental” or “World/International”.

      Also groundbreaking new devotional tracks with Baha’i Holy Words put to music and also others that are just Baha’i inspired songs.
      VISIONARIES (Badasht vol iii) has a huge range of styles; I also really like this Canadian girl carried at this site: CANOPY- MJ Cyr

      Thanks again for this great blog; just downloaded the track “Live I” from HOME for this coming feast.
      ~Elly

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