Healing Songs

Healing Songs

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: Published: April 2006

Author: Ted Gioia

Medicine and Health > Medical Humanities, Music, Religious Studies

While the first healers were musicians who relied on rhythm and song to help cure the sick, over time Western thinkers and doctors lost touch with these traditions. In the West, for almost two millennia, the roles of the healer and the musician have been strictly separated.

Until recently, that is. Over the past few decades there has been a resurgence of interest in healing music. In the midst of this nascent revival, Ted Gioia, a musician, composer, and widely praised author, offers the first detailed exploration of the uses of music for curative purposes from ancient times to the present. Gioia’s inquiry into the restorative powers of sound moves effortlessly from the history of shamanism to the role of Orpheus as a mythical figure linking Eastern and Western ideas about therapeutic music, and from Native American healing ceremonies to what clinical studies can reveal about the efficacy of contemporary methods of sonic healing.

Gioia considers a broad range of therapies, providing a thoughtful, impartial guide to their histories and claims, their successes and failures. He examines a host of New Age practices, including toning, Cymatics, drumming circles, and the Tomatis method. And he explores how the medical establishment has begun to recognize and incorporate the therapeutic power of song. Acknowledging that the drumming circle will not—and should not—replace the emergency room, nor the shaman the cardiologist, Gioia suggests that the most promising path is one in which both the latest medical science and music—with its capacity to transform attitudes and bring people together—are brought to bear on the multifaceted healing process.

In Healing Songs, as in its companion volume Work Songs, Gioia moves beyond studies of music centered on specific performers, time periods, or genres to illuminate how music enters into and transforms the experiences of everyday life.


“[S]cholars will appreciate the depth of Gioia's research. Summing Up: Recommended.” — C. Wadsworth Walker, Choice

“Gioia here reinforces his reputation for combining inquisitive scholarship with lucid readability.” — Andrew Green, Classical Music

"Healing Songs provides a penetrating look at therapeutic music. . . . Healing Songs is the type of book which will certainly have a wide reading appeal among those who enjoy jazz, music, sonic techniques, and wish to know about music as a tool for healing. It is well-written, concise, and enjoyable. It will undoubtedly find a welcome spot on your bookshelf, frequently revisited in order to savor its contents. Healing Songs takes readers on a transcendent journey. Educational and enjoyable. Highly recommended." — Lee Prosser, JazzReview.com

"[Work Songs and Healing Songs] share much beyond a conviction that music speaks most eloquently when it is grounded in human life. Both break through the cultural and genre boundaries that determine the scope of most books on music, seeking out unsuspected parallels between widely separated cultures.” — Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph

"In the two books, which can be read separately or as two volumes of an intricately interwoven study, we are given a wide range of examples to explain why music has always been, and continues to be, such an integral part of the human experience." — Lahri Bond, Dirty Linen

“Ted Gioia enriches and makes real the powerful message that music is, and has always been, an integral part of the toolkit that ordinary humans have used to navigate life. He shows that, far from being a pastime to fill idle moments or a distraction from everyday preoccupations, music addresses fundamental issues of human existence, survival, and liberation. Gioia’s work offers hope to those who fear that the corporate mass media may have suffocated the age-old impulse of ordinary people to make music their own.” — John Sloboda, author of Exploring the Musical Mind


Availability: In stock
Price: $34.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ted Gioia, pianist, composer, and one of the founders of Stanford University’s Jazz Studies program, is the author of Work Songs, also published by Duke University Press, as well as several celebrated books, including West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California, 1945–1960. His book The History of Jazz was selected as one of the best books of the year by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post, chosen as a notable book of the year by the New York Times, and honored with the Bay Area Book Reviewers’ award for best nonfiction work of the year. His book The Imperfect Art won the ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award and was named a Jazz Book of the Century by the Jazz Educators Journal. He has recorded several compact discs as a leader, including The End of the Open Road and Tango Cool.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface ix

1. The Rhythm Within 1

2. The Incantation 18

3. Native American Healing Songs 34

4. The Shaman 49

5. Orpheus the Shaman 69

6. The Harmony of the Spheres 89

7. Music and the Medical Practitioner 109

8. Music Therapy 124

9. From Singing Bowls to Sonic Birth 142

10. Reclaiming the Drum 158

11. Do Healing Songs Work? 170

Notes 183

Recommended Listening 211

Bibliography 215

Index 233
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, 2007 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award

Additional InformationBack to Top
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3702-7