Therapeutic Listening

I’m making a thread from @AudioObscura obscura post in the filed recording thread.

Strategies for helping the mind through listening? Is there a link between how deeply we listen and a form of mindfulness, or is listening just a ‘reason’ to sit quietly and not look at a screen?

placing this article here for discussion


Very interesting topic. To me, it seems pretty obvious that there is a connection between deep listening and meditative states - at least i get to very similar mental places through “normal” meditation and through mindful listening to works by artists such as Eliane Radigue or Pauline Oliveros. I have meditated to drones I set up on my modular synth before and I actually found it easier than without the additional focal point of the sound. I’ve found for example that it’s not hard to set up slow modulation cycles that are about as long as one of my typical breathing cycles during meditation and using them to focus my attention on my breathing without having to focus on the breath itself (if that makes any sense).

I’m not so sure about any direct connection between vibrations/resonance/frequencies and health, but I think that as a tool for meditation, music can definitely be beneficial.

There is an interview with El Larson about her practice on Art + Music + Technology.


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i’ve been stuck in chapter 2 or 3 i think, but this book but is interesting

This thread especially piqued my interest. In one of the group therapy groups I run, I’ve been experimenting (more in the artistic sense than the scientific sense) with incorporating sound and music into our regular session-opening meditations. This particular group is not super high-functioning and represents very low education and socioeconomic strata.

Mostly, I’ve been pulling from ambient artists (I try to keep it to ~10 minutes, so it’s challenging to find pieces that length), but I’ve also experimented more conventional artists (call it “intentional” vs ambient music?). Oliveros’ Deep Listening is, of course, designed for this, more or less, and I personally find much of Reich to be very meditative, but some of my less stable patients found it quite agitating.

I find myself reaching into my (comparatively limited) musical repertoire and choosing based on my gut. I haven’t found a lot of guidance from research on what works, either specifically or in principle. As a clinician, my access to literature is limited compared to when I was doing research. Anyone have leads on solid studies of the utility and application of music and/or sound to meditation?


there is a lot of music for tai chi, yoga, chi gong, meditation etc on youtube, for example:

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in David Byrne’s 'how music works, he talks about therapists using sound-
he says it can heal if played on vinyl
but digital recordings have 'gaps in the audio, our ears make up the difference, but it’s not thereaputic…

maybe he explains it better :slight_smile:

not to sound confrontational but, do you believe this?

i have the utmost respect for byrne but cannot disagree more with his sentiment

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It does sound naive / ignorant with respect to how digital audio works.

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oh, no worries :slightly_smiling_face:
it’s an interesting book
he talks about how when turntables first came out, you could record on them
and also, about how the acoustics of the room (cbgb, radio city music hall) affect how music is experienced, and thus created
the ideas about digital v analog
make sense (sample rates describe how much information is recorded/transmitted - I’m sure it’s my description
causing confusion, and he may have been describing what therapists who use music had found, it’s been a minute since I had the text in front of me
what do you think?

On digital audio and human hearing:

[quote=“abalone, post:10, topic:6504”]
it’s an interesting book
[/quote]no doubt, I’d like to read it at some point because he’s a legend and would be cool to see his perspective on things

[quote=“abalone, post:10, topic:6504”]
I’m sure it’s my descriptioncausing confusion, and he may have been describing what therapists who use music had found, it’s been a minute since I had the text in front of me what do you think?
[/quote]without needlessly elaborating I think his statement is the same as saying that recorded/amplified sound is “incomplete” and only sound directly produced by an acoustic instrument retain any healing properties

maybe in context he wasn’t as dogmatic as I’m imagining (eg. saying ‘analog sound may have more power to affect our mood and mind’ would be more tolerable even tho I still don’t agree)

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Healing power of sound:


his book…:grinning:
he may have been talking about these issues

With all due respect, that’s a load of horse poop.

yeah, probably
I’m not backing any new age Internet
(although what is Wikipedia?) :slight_smile:
imho, if I’m playing a real cymbal, drums- the whole room moves different

can’t remember if he’s talking psychoacoustics, we should ask d.byrne
I like to talk about these issues​:mexico::slightly_smiling_face::electric_plug:
(the poetry of emoji)
digital v analog
you know I’m into both
why do bass and drums sound better on tape?
why does Neil Young want a better sample rate?

That’s a very different comparison than digital vs. analog recordings, both of which are coming through speakers and are indistinguishable to the human ear (with the exception of additional noise from the analog sound source).

Because he bought the snake oil, unfortunately.

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this is me but rap music and traffic and horns blasting over cumbia 24/7 in nyc while i try to make music that’s “me” inside lol

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If it were me? I’d be planning a vacation:

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indeed, amazing spot! and beautiful, they got hot springs up there too :slightly_smiling_face:
here’s a page from David Byrne

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