From the Publisher
"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
Read an Excerpt
Way the Eyes Are with the Ears
The eyes are hungry. They eat brain energy. When you close your eyes your brain opens to your ears; sound rushes in to fill the sphere of the skull. Your mother's lullaby just before you drop off to sleep. Earphones on, lying on the couch, Beethoven's Seventh, your arm over your eyes. The candle sputters;
lovemaking sounds in the pitch dark, then whispers and laughing.
Open your eyes: now the brain is crowded, and the bright screen of sound grows dim.
When people are listening intently with their eyes open, a strange thing happens.
Their eyes roll up a little bit, and a glaze comes over them as if the surface has congealed. I love that little roll-up. Oh, those Swami Eyes! It means that the hearing, just for a moment, has become hungrier than the vision. And the way people's eyes suddenly retreat to a neutral corner when you are saying something truthful to them? That means they heard you.
And when people stare straight ahead, it means that everything is being heard and nothing is being shown. Sometimes this gaze is so powerful and beautiful that poems are written about it afterward.
Listen to the sounds you are hearing now. Then close your eyes and listen, and open them again. Try to hear the same way in both cases. Notice how the eyes are with the ears.
Listening into the distance is like looking into the horizon.
When we gaze at the horizon, our vision goes beyond our eyes and sees forever. When we listen into the distance, our ears reach beyond the farthest sounds, and the infinite becomes sensible. We get a fix on our position in the boundless world.
The alternative is like being stuck in traffic and never sensing beyond the stream of it.
We begin to think like cars. It is like staying cooped up indoors with no windows.
We need the big picture and the long radius. We need to check out the long-range coordinates.
Go out of your way, if you have to, to look steady and long at the place where earth and sky meet. Likewise, discover places where your ears can soar out to the edge of audibility. Find a lull in the evening, a valley, a distant remove,
a quiet dawn, and listen into that boundary. You can disappear beyond it into where you really live.