review of the essay collection Ways of Hearing

Music has that power to stitch lives to other lives without so much as blinking. -Alicia Hall Moran

Much of this book was lost on me, but one essay introduced me to the music of composer Steve Reich, and I'm inclined to agree with the author that it's absolutely perfect background music for intellectual work:

The feeling is ... utopian—might our world be like this one, after all? The possibility arises of a ramifying, fractal, infinitely generous attention, at all scales at once ... A work song for good work freely undertaken, carried along and carried through. -Jeff Dolven

Some of the other essays provided good recommendations too: Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa; Chopin's impressive Ballade No. 2, Op. 38. And there are some eloquent descriptions of particular music and of music in general. Richard Powers describes how Bach's Partita in D Minor created for him "a moment outside of time". Pico Iyer says listening to Handel's arias "reminds me that there's something beyond what I see and know". Brian Seibert notes that "to view a dance is to borrow the ears of the choreographer and the dancers."

The last essay has interesting thoughts on the role of "the spatial aspect of sound—the perceived location, extent, and movements of sound sources in surrounding space", making the case that this has been drastically underutilized in music due to technical limitations.