How to Write Psychedelic Rock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A guide on how to write psychedelic rock, a genre of rock music that typically tries to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs.

The Birth of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also known as psychedelia, is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the 1960s. Psychedelic rock is characterized by its use of feedback, distortion, and other effects to create a “trippy” sound. The genre was influenced by psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.

The British Invasion

The British Invasion was a pivotal moment in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. It began in 1964 with the arrival of the Beatles on U.S. shores, and ended around 1967 with the death of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys mastermind who had taken pop music in a bold new direction with his album Pet Sounds.

In between those two bookend events, a revolution took place in American music. The Beatles, the Stones, and their British Invasion brethren introduced a new style of rock that was louder, harder, and more aggressive than anything that had come before. They also infused their music with a healthy dose of rebelliousness and adolescent sexuality.

But it was the Beach Boys who took those elements and added something new: a sense of adventure, mystery, and exploration that was informed by their use of drugs like LSD and marijuana. This new sound came to be known as psychedelic rock, and it would go on to have a profound impact on popular culture for decades to come.

The Summer of Love

It was the summer of love, and rock music would never be the same. Psychedelic rock emerged from the ashes of the British Invasion, setting itself apart with mind-bending sounds, experimental instrumentation, and long, trippy jams. Artists like The Beatles, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix took the genre to new heights, and soon psychedelic rock was being heard all around the world.

Psychedelic rock is defined by its expansive sounds and trippy lyrics, which often explore themes of social consciousness and drug use. The genre is indebted to earlier styles like garage rock and acid rock, but it also incorporated elements of jazz, classical music, and Eastern music. Psychedelic rock became hugely popular in the late 1960s thanks to the so-called “Summer of Love,” when young people from all over the world converged on San Francisco to celebrate peace, love, and understanding.

In the years that followed, psychedelic rock would fall out of fashion, only to be revived by generations of musicians who were inspired by its boundary-pushing sound. Today,psychedelic rock is as popular as ever, with artists like Tame Impala carrying on the traditions of the genre while creating something entirely new.

The Sound of Psychedelic Rock

The sound of Psychedelic Rock is a subgenre of rock that emerged in the 1960s. Musically, Psychedelic Rock is characterized by distorted guitars, mind-bending lyrical themes, and a trippy, otherworldly atmosphere. If you’re interested in writing Psychedelic Rock, here are a few tips to get you started.

Electric Guitars

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. Musically, psychedelic rock incorporates elements of various genres, including blues, folk, country, jazz, and western classical music. The genre is characterized by extended Drone tonalities, unusual time signatures, and philosophy-laden lyrics.

The electric guitar is the most prominent instrument in psychedelic rock. Guitars are typically played through effects pedals to create new and unique sounds. Common effects include wah-wah, fuzz, and delay. Chords are often played with a heavy reverb to create a “wash” of sound. Riffs are often distorted and played at a high volume to create a sense of sonic space. Psychedelic guitarists often use feedback to create new sounds.


The sound of psychedelic rock is defined by its heavy use of distorted guitars. This iconic sound was born out of the garage rock scene of the 1960s, when artists began pushing their amplifiers to create new and unique sounds.

Overdrive and fuzz pedals were originally designed to simulate the sound of overdriven tube amplifiers, but they quickly became popular among psychedelic rockers for their ability to create wild and unpredictable sounds. Many classic songs from the genre make use of these effects to create a mind-bending sonic experience.

Reverb and delay are also essential tools in the psychedelic rock toolbox. These effects create a sense of space and depth in the mix, which can be used to create an otherworldly atmosphere or to simply make the guitars sound bigger and more powerful.

The key to creating a psychedelic rock sound is experimentation. There are no rules, so feel free to experiment with different techniques and effects until you find something that works for you.

Reverb and Delay

Psychedelic rock relies heavily on electric guitars and the use of mind-altering drugs, which often create an atmosphere of paranoia and fear. The sound of psychedelic rock is typically created with the help of reverb and delay pedals, which are used to create a “wet” sound that is perfect for creating the swirling, trippy soundscapes that are characteristic of this genre.

The Influences of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired by or attempts to replicate the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The style emerged in the mid-1960s with the British band The Beatles and American band The Grateful Dead. Psychedelic rock began to enter the mainstream in the late 1960s with the release of The Doors’ album Strange Days, which included the song “Light My Fire”.

Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs are substances that alter a person’s perception, mood and cognitive state. The most well-known psychedelic drug is LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), but other common psychedelics include psilocybin (the main ingredient in “magic mushrooms”), mescaline (found in the peyote cactus) and DMT (dimethyltryptamine, found in ayahuasca).

Psychedelics are thought to work by mimicking the action of serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in mood, perception and cognition. Serotonin is found in abundance in the brain’s frontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-order cognitive functions such as planning and decision-making. Psychedelic drugs are thought to produce their effects by temporarily disrupting the normal function of the frontal cortex.

Psychedelics have been used for centuries by indigenous people for religious and spiritual purposes. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in their potential therapeutic uses. Psychedelic drugs are being studied as possible treatments for a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There is still much unknown about the potential risks and benefits of psychedelic drugs. Some people who take psychedelic drugs can experience negative side effects, such as anxiety, paranoia and nausea. However, these effects are typically short-lived and not long-lasting. Psychedelic drugs are also known to be non-addictive and are not associated with any physical or psychological dependence.

Eastern Religions

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is influenced bypsychedelic culture and the use ofpsychedelic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences ofpsychedelic drugs. Psychedelic rock began in the mid-1960s with groups such as the Beatles, the Byrds and Love.

Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, had a significant impact on the development of psychedelic rock. The music often incorporated sitars and tablas, which are traditional Indian instruments, as well as Indian-sounding scales and drones. The lyrics sometimes dealt with Eastern spiritual themes, such as reincarnation and karma. Many psychedelic rock groups, including the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, were inspired by Eastern religion.

The Counterculture

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a style of music that emerged in the mid-1960s. The genre is defined by its use of distorted guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, as well as its exploration of themes ofdrugs, mental illness, the occult, and death.

Psychedelic rock was born out of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. This movement was a response to the political and social turmoil of the time, as well as a rejection of traditional values. Many young people began experimenting with drugs such as LSD and marijuana in an attempt to achieve a higher level of consciousness.

Psychedelic rock bands often used drug references in their songs as a way to connect with their audience. The Beatles were one of the first groups to experiment with psychedelic sounds on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album’s iconic cover art featured the band members dressed in brightly-colored costumes and surrounded by various objects that were symbolic of the drug-induced state of mind.

The Beatles’ psychedelic experimentation influenced many other artists at the time, including The Beach Boys, who released their own album Pet Sounds just months after Sgt. Pepper’s. The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was heavily influenced by psychedelic drugs when writing and recording the album, which is often considered one of the most important recordings in popular music history.

Today, psychedelic rock is enjoying a resurgence in popularity thanks to bands like Tame Impala and MGMT. These groups are creating new sounds while still paying homage to the classic psych-rock era.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also known as simply Psychedelia, is a subgenre of rock music that emerged during the mid-1960s.Psychedelic rock is often characterized by distorted guitars, trippy lyrics, and echoed sound effects. The genre is also often tied to the drug culture of the 1960s, with many songs referencing drug use.

Psychedelic Rock Today

Psychedelic rock is a genre that is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. While the sound of the genre has evolved over the years, the core elements remain the same. Psychedelic rock is characterized by its use of distorted guitars, extended jams, and mind-altering lyrics. The genre is often associated with the counterculture of the 1960s, but it has continued to influence musicians in subsequent generations.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in psychedelic rock, with bands like Tame Impala and MGMT leading the way. These bands have brought a fresh perspective to the genre, infusing it with elements of electronic music and pop. In doing so, they have helped to broaden its appeal and bring it to a new generation of listeners.

Psychedelic rock today is about more than just music; it’s about an attitude and a lifestyle. It’s about pushing boundaries and expanding your mind. If you’re looking to delve deeper into this fascinating genre, then check out our list of essential psychedelic rock albums.

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