The Psychedelic Diaries, Vol VII: Making your macrodose playlist

Ray Christian
4 min readMay 14, 2021

“The best art divides the audience”

— Rick Rubin

Note — free version of this article is available here.

Music plays a major role in macrodosing with psychedelics, probably due to the suggestible state you’re in.

The auditory inputs impact your sense of flow and can have a dramatic effect on the tone of the trip.

However, music taste varies wildly from one person to the next.

It’s critical piece of the trip and yet one playlist isn’t right for everyone. How do we solve this noodle-scratcher?

As they say, better to teach a man to fish.

In this volume of the ‘del diaries we’ll walk through a structure for building your macrodose playlist.

In addition to the structure, I’ll share some example songs, a few macrodose music maxims and a recent playlist of mine.

But first, the fundamentals:

Four macrodose music modules

Curate your playlist by breaking the journey into four modules:

  1. Pre-trip
  2. Lift-off
  3. Cruising altitude
  4. Landing

For simplicity, I’ll cater to a typical psilocybin macrodose. LSD and mescaline trips can last much longer, so we’ll keep it simple with mushrooms.

Build separate blocks of your playlist for each of the four modules.

Pre-trip

Description

The period after taking the medicine but before it’s kicked in

Duration

20–30 mins (5–7 songs)

Music profile

Songs that get you dancing, jumping and singing

Commentary

I’d argue this is the most important stage. Your state of mind as you enter the Stargate portal will dictate the state of your trip.

The ancient tribal ceremonies were onto something… and you can tap into that.

If you can let go of inhibitions, get a little weird and go tribal, the singing-and-dancing vibe will benefit you tremendously.

It helps for blood circulation, dopamine release and increasing positive sentiment.

Examples

Music needs for this module are the most subjective. When in doubt, choose whichever music gets you most compelled to move.

A few very subjective examples:

Peter Gabriel — Sledgehammer

George Clinton — Flash Light

Cali Swag District —Teach me how to dougie

Liftoff

Description

The most intense part of the journey

Duration

1.5–2 hours (25–40 songs)

Music profile

Perhaps the only thing about psychedelic playlists we can all agree on: during this stage, play songs without lyrics.

I suggest a repeating cycle with this 1–2 punch:

1) an introspective classical song, then

2) an upbeat classical cover

Commentary

This cadence gives you more than enough time to go very deep.

And yet, if you get stuck in a thought loop, the next song will help trigger a transition.

Examples

Two artists come to mind:

Philip Glass for the introspective classical and Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ) for the covers.

So for example, frame a repeating A/B cycle that looks like this:

A — Philip Glass: Metamorphosis 2

B — VSQ covering Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”

then…

A — Philip Glass: Mad Rush

B — VSQ covering Alive by Pearl Jam

Other options include deep house, rhythmic music and I’m partial to Yoyo Ma on solo Bach.

Cruising altitude

Description

The most intense parts of the trip have completed and, while not feeling “normal,” you’ve started to find a stable equilibrium within the trip.

Duration

30–60 minutes

Music

Rainforest sounds

Commentary

This period can oftentimes feel, on a visceral level, like a rebirth.

With the right background music, you’ll feel like a newborn babe in an enchanted forest.

At the very least, continue with songs that have no lyrics. A pleasant nature soundtrack is recommended.

Example

Exotic Tropical Rainforest with Birds of Paradise by Sounds of Nature

Landing

Description

This is the beginning of the merge between your trip experience and your normal reality. You’re still very much tripping, but you may feel more in control and an urge to move.

Duration

60–120 minutes

Music

Positive sentiment songs, preferably with funk

Commentary

I suggest starting slow with gentle dreamy songs, then slowly ramping up with more energetic songs.

If you do move, note that you may feel like a newborn gazelle on the African plains. You’ll likely be a little awkward and bump into things, so take it slow.

Songs with lyrics are fine now, but curate the list with feel-good songs. Bonus if they can get you dancing or singing.

I also suggest having some sort of instrument nearby. There’s a very good chance you’ll be feeling musical funk you didn’t even know you had.

Examples

The first songs after the jungle ambiance should be very pleasant and dreamy. For example:

Imogen Heap — Hide and Seek

Galimatias—Shallow

Then ramp up to more rhythmic, movement-inducing songs. A couple examples:

Khruangbin — Lady and a Man

FKJ and Masego — Tadow

Three macrodose music maxims

Three easy takeaways:

  1. Less lyrics
  2. New playlists — make a new one each trip. Novelty will help distract your consciousness.
  3. High volume — Loud enough where it’s juuust below “uncomfortable.” Loud enough that you can’t help but let the music take over your conscious attention. This helps enable your subconscious, or perhaps the 5th dimension, to take the wheel.

If you have the option, I recommend speakers, not headphones, to give you more of a sense of freedom.

It’s already dated, but here’s a recent playlist I used.

Up next in Vol VIII: Seven more “Mozart Zone” observations

ray@textpert.ai

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Ray Christian

Innovator, designer, strategist, public speaker, psychonaut. Engaged in a love affair with cutting-edge mental healthcare, AI, & psychedelics