The Listening Service

Tom Service

Original publisher: Faber & FaberNon Fiction

Based on his critically-acclaimed BBC Radio 3 programme The Listening Service, in which Tom Service takes an idea on an ear-opening and mind-expanding walk through the musical landscape every week, this book is a celebration of music’s multi-dimensional power in our lives. With 101 short chapters based on the programmes and grouped thematically the book will open ears and imaginations to find answers to the questions we all have about why and how music – from Toots and the Maytals and J S Bach, Gustav Mahler and Miley Cyrus, to Anna Meredith and Mozart – works its magic over us. With direct links to the programmes using a QR code, the chapters draw on powerful and communicative anecdotes and analogies, as well as the latest scientific research, and above all, a spirit of discovery and connection across genres, cultures, and histories. At its heart is the conviction that music changes us.


‘Service’s argument was whisked along with extracts from Brahms’s German Requiem and the voice of Kathryn Tickell, celebrating the dancing drone of the Northumbrian pipes. It was strengthened by the range of his reference – from Hildegard of Bingen to the Velvet Underground. It was made unforgettable by the urgency of his delivery and the imagination behind his words. Listen long enough to a drone and you hear “a whole starscape of sounds”.’ — Susannah Clapp, Guardian