i had to read this amazing book for my intro to world music class called the listening book and these were my conclusions:
The back of the book says it the best, The Listening Book has definitely been ‘about rediscovering the power of listening as an instrument of self-discovery and personal transformation.’
Right away in the introduction of the book W.A. Mathieu says while referring to Jim who is supposed to be loving a symphony concert, “He feels like a dope. He doesn’t know what to listen for. There is a veil in front of the music. He gets tangled up in what he thinks music is supposed to be, and there is no room for listening. Listening can be a way of life, and life can become musical to the awakened ear.” This explanation is completely relatable to anyone and everyone in one situation or another in life. I feel like our generation is so caught up in the technology of the age that they miss the natural wonders of sound that have yet to be tampered by computer simulation. American’s in general were not raised to appreciate the simple things of life. But the more that I personally get into this book and do the exercises mentioned I feel the longing within for the ability to be still and listen.
Mathieu is really in tune with his immediate surroundings and has a seemingly rare ability to embrace the ‘now.’ Every story from beginning to end Mathieus trys to lead us into a place of being able to focus on the one thing that we are doing, getting our minds off of our worries or things of distraction. Page 10 of the book his exercise tells us to get a pencil and paper and to become aware of all the sounds I am hearing now, this moment, as I read and to make a list. This was a bit of a hard task because I, like Jim from the introduction, don’t really know what I am listening for and don’t notice the things that I hear so very often. I caught myself disregarding things. Like Mathieu says on page 29, “The energy of non-listening-of ignoring something- becomes part of you.” But the longer I did it the longer I wanted to keep doing it because I was enjoying doing absolutely nothing more than I thought possible. Like he says on page 26, “the more you listen the more you hear, the delight in registering sounds that had always been present but I had never heard, the ecstasy of knowing this is a lifelong experience, infinitely expandable, basically musical.”
The further I read into the book and when I got to the practicing chapters is when I remembered the book was directed towards musicians. So much of the book is so relatable and at the same time eye opening for anyone, not only musicians. I very much recommend this book. There are few books that have touched and really changed my mindset and outlook on life and this is one of them. I am going to carry this book along with me on my journey through life continually referring back to it as I feel need to retune my listening ear.