The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music
By W.A. Matheiu
Published by Shambhala
Paperback; 179 pages
The Listening Book is about rediscovering the power of listening as an instrument of self-discovery and personal transformation. By exploring our capacity for listening to sounds and for making music, we can awaken and release our full creative powers. Mathieu offers suggestions and encouragement on many aspects of music-making, and provides playful exercises to help readers appreciate the connection between sound, music, and everyday life.
In the opening section, we are treated to essays on:
• making sound the bridge that leads us out of our skin and into vivid contact with animals;
• the game of making a list of sounds in the city as notes for a symphony;
• the art of listening to people;
• eschewing the toxins of advertising which put the ears into “a coma”;
• practicing the skill of listening to music with your whole self.
In a wonderful piece on liberating sounds, Mathieu writes:
“From the most unlikely sources come the sweetest sounds. Some of them may have been waiting for their freedom. Do your part. The vibrational world needs you. Whack it! Tap it softly and put your ear right up next to it. Or give it a jolt and stand back. Remember, one honors a thing by vibrating it.”
There is such thematic richness and lyrical beauty in Mathieu's writing as he probes silence, discovering your own music, mistakes, finding a teacher, age matters, and the magical scale. This is the kind of book you don't want to put down as you move from one bounty to another!
“A wise and loving owner's manual for anybody who has ears. Mathieu offers a rare opportunity to re-discover a rich and often neglected channel that links our inner self with the world.” —Keyboard Magazine
“A practical and in-depth guide to the vastness of the mysticism of sound. It is also beautifully written. It is poetic, humorous, loving, and confrontational—it is filled with the child's curiosity and it is filled with love for life—and it is contagious.” —The Sound
“In this collection of short, evocative essays, [Mathieu] offers playful and powerful suggestions for awakening to the music that is always around us and inside us. . . . His infectious passion for the melodies and rhythms of everyday life shimmers on every page.” —Yoga Journal
“In this age of the couch potato, squatting bug-eyed at the boob-tube, this is a book on behalf of the unregenerate ear-minded person's protest against the eye-minded majority. . . . Mathieu offers suggestions and encouragement on many aspects of music-making, and provides playful exercises to help readers appreciate the connection between sound, music, and everyday life.” —Spiritual Frontiers
“The Listening Book is a true gift for music-makers of any stripe, It offers us not only the insights of a master teacher and the instincts of a great musician, but it radiates with that wonderful quality of a man who wears his soul on his sleeve.” —Paul Winter, composer and musician
“The Listening Book is a remarkable and exciting work. An obvious labor of love, every page sings of the joys of life and music. Mathieu's observations and perceptions are insightful, incisive and often startling. This is a book that could change the way we view music, and which would be of benefit to everyone from the casual listener or performer to the professional musician.” —David N. Baker, Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman, Jazz Department, Indiana University School of Music