Deep Listeners

Deep Listeners

Music, Emotion, and Trancing
Judith Becker
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/7/2008
Format: paper 210 pages, 17 b&w photos, 26 figures, 8 color photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21672-4
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Society for Ethnomusicology's Book of the Year Award
“A fascinating thesis and a timely synthesis. . . . Becker urges the reader to view certain arcane cultural rituals as being in the mainstream of spiritual development and argues that the resulting trance-like states may relate to the basic fabric of emotions and consciousness, which are our ancestral, animalian heritage. This is both a risky and courageous undertaking that challenges both cultural and neuroscientific studies.”
—Jaak Panksepp, author of Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions

In Deep Listeners, Judith Becker brings together scientific and cultural approaches to the study of music and emotion, and music and trancing. Becker claims that persons who experience deep emotions when listening to music are akin to those who trance within the context of religious rituals. Using new discoveries in the fields of neuroscience and biology, Deep Listeners outlines an emotion-based theory of trance using examples from Southeast Asian and American musics. A companion CD includes excerpts from several of the musical genres under discussion, and a 16-page color insert presents vivid documentation of the global experience of “deep listening.”

Author Bio

Judith Becker is Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music, University of Michigan, where she directs the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the University Gamelan. Her field of expertise is the music of Southeast Asia, and she has conducted research in Burma, Indonesia, North India, and Sri Lanka. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


". . . [A] significant contribution to the literature on music, trance, ritual, and cognition, encompassing an impressive body of literature on the subject, and bridging disciplines in an entirely new way. . . . This book will be important and fascinating for musicologists,cognitive scientists, and others interested in the relationship between music, emotions, the mind, and the body." —Journal of the American Musicological Society

"There is such a wealth of stimulating ideas here. . . . I find thet [Becker's] ideas reinforce and validate one's intuitions about music and its power to move the listener." —American Record Guide

"[S]uccessfully, yet distinctively, provides an important contribution to the growing literature on music, spirituality, and experience." —ETHNOMUSICOLOGY :Jrnl Soc Ethnom

"[Examines] music, emotion, movement, and thought through the lens of trancing." —International Journal of Listening

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Table of Contents

An historical interlude: trance in Europe and the United States
Chapter 1: Rethinking 'Trance'
Chapter 2: Deep Listeners
Chapter 3: Habitus of Listening
Chapter 4: Trancing Selves
Chapter 5: Being in the World - Culture and Biology
Chapter 6: Magic through Emotion: Towards a Theory of Trance Consciousness
Postscript: Trancing and Human Evolution