Mindfulness in Sound

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Mark Tanner’s little book Mindfulness in Music, which I reviewed here, is one of those super-quotable books that has proven not just a wonderful read from cover to cover, but also great for dipping into for inspiration whenever the urge arises.

Now Tanner returns with another book in Leaping Hare Press’s superb series of hardback mindfulness books, Mindfulness in Sound, in which he invites us to Tune in to the world around us.

While this book isn’t directly about music the subject inevitably crops up, and this is another lovely book which I’m sure many Pianodao readers will enjoy immensely…

The Publication

Mindfulness in Sound comes, like its predecessor, as a small hardback book, and is again 144 pages in length.

Within, a lighter ivory shade of paper is used this time, and the same considerable attention has been paid to giving the book an engaging design throughout.

Chapters are separated by etching-style grey illustrations based on the cover design, and preceded with a chapter heading and full-page quote. The main text is well-spaced, has clear section headings, pull-out quotes, and is interspersed with occasional pages offering mindfulness exercises along the way.

The Leaping Hare series has continued to grow, each little book presented with the same house style and outstanding aesthetics, and now includes such tempting titles as The Mindful Art of Wild Swimming, Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling and The Art of Mindful Birdwatching.

The Content

Mindfulness in Sound beings with a lengthy and essential introduction in which Tanner welcomes us to our “personal journey through sound”, invites us to find our “inner point of resonance”, and discusses ideas about the healing power of sound, laughter, and streams of consciousness.

The main material that follows is subsequently divided into six chapters:

  1. Sound as Meditation
  2. Pathways to Sound
  3. Meditation Sounded Out
  4. Deep Listening
  5. The Sound of Speech
  6. Soundscapes

Though Tanner will perhaps be best known to Pianodao readers as a pianist, composer, teacher, trainer and music adjudicator, he proved with Mindfulness in Music that he is an eloquent and authoritative writer on the subject of mindfulness; here again he writes with sympathetic intelligence and poetic simplicity, serving up a rich feast of ideas, reflections and mindful practices that anyone can engage with.

At the same time, and though presenting himself as somewhat ambivalent to technology, Tanner writes with scientific precision about the apparatus of the human hearing mechanism, acoustics, and introduces us to such discursive topics as psychoacoustics, biomusic, artificial intelligence, autonomous sensory meridian response, compassionate focus therapy, binaural beats therapy, tinnitus, phonetics and phonology.

Before you panic, these subjects are all handled with an easy-to-read accessibility and blend quickly into discussion of down-to-earth but transformatory meditation techniques that any reader will easily be able to practice.

There are simple suggestions galore here, many with the potential to recalibrate how we hear, listen and live. And, peppered as it is with engaging anecdotes and Tanner’s trademark good humour, at no point did I find the book became ‘heavy’ or oblique.

A Sound Investment

In short, Mark Tanner has delivered again. Mindfulness in Sound is at once entertaining, interesting, absorbing and challenging. And though less-directly concerned with the art of music-making, this seemingly slight volume offers up a surprisingly deep and tasty mix of helpful information and inspiration.

As the author puts it,

This little book blesses us with a clearer understanding of how sound works, and how it connects to our emotion and understanding. As such it is a truly indispensable read.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.