The Tao of Music

The Tao of Music:
Sound Psychology
– By John M. Ortiz, Ph.D.Retail Price: $27.75
Softcover: 6” x 9” – 390 pages
ISBN: 1-57863-008-8
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Published in October 1997

Like many people, when we’re feeling “blue,” we might listen to music to reflect our feelings, or to cheer ourselves up. In The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology, Dr. Ortiz has focused on this basic impulse and created an effective systematic way to deal with life’s vagaries, whether they’re long-term problems or momentary difficulties. He uses carefully selected songs and melodies, reflective of specific emotional states, that we can each use to progress from identifying our pain to healing it.

Designed as an introduction to Sound Psychology™, The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology combines music and sound, basic psychological principles, and Eastern philosophy in a “reader friendly,” practical format, making it accessible to laypersons as well as health practitioners. Through a wealth of inspirational case stories, simple exercises and creative techniques, this holistic, extensively researched resource provides hundreds of recommended “Musical Menus” to assist readers in “composing” their own complementary programs for healing, prevention and wellness. The Tao of Music, a 1998 Small Press Book Awards Finalist in Self Help / Recovery / Psychology, is also available in Portuguese (1998, Mandarin, Brazil), and German (October, 1999, O.W. Barth, Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

(1) Depressed Moods
(2) Pain
(3) Self-Esteem
(4) Stress
(5) Anger
(6) Sleeplessness
(7) Control
(8) Relaxation

(9) Memory Recall
(10) Time Management
(11) Grief and Loss
(12) Growth/Change
(13) Procrastination
(14) Aging
(15) Physical Exercise & Music

(16) Improving Communication
(17) Companionship
(18) Relationship Issues
(19) Romantic Intimacy
(20) Motivating the Mind
(21) How to Listen: Educating the Ear

(22) Centering (Silence)
(23) Creativity
(24) HeAr and Now
(25) Letting Go
(26) Being Vs. Trying to Be
(27) Clearing the Mind

Rhythmic Synchronicity
Psychological Noise & Masking
Contextual Cuing
Acoustic Memory
Whys Shoulds & Musts

Thought Stopping
Mantric Sounds

Choosing One’s Music
The Spiral Sojourn
Your Special Place
Inner Guide

The Tao of Music features hundreds of:
Musical Menus
Sound Ideas
Individual Exercises
Research References
Psychomusicology Quotes
Original Taoist Koans
and an extensive Bibliography


The Tao of Music creates a vast panoply of insight, inspiration and practical ways to use music to improve your life, your spirit and your soul. No other publication has such a wide array of resources for the questing musical mind.” – Don Campbell, Author, The Mozart Effect

“This is a quintessential self-help book…psychomusicologist Ortiz provides a hands-on manual for using music to help manage one’s emotional life.” – The NAPRA ReView

The Tao of Music brings together the best thinking from Western and Eastern philosophers with regards to using music to improve emotional, physical and psychological health. Dr. Ortiz has done a masterful job in summarizing the current data in the field and it is my hope that anyone interested in this fascinating subject will read this book.” – William Davis, Ph.D., RMT Colorado State University

“Ambitiously subtitled ‘Using Music to Change Your Life’ this book surprisingly does deliver the goods…this extraordinary, ingenious book deserves a place beside everyone’s music collection.” – Janet Wright, Health & Fitness

“John Ortiz has tapped the power of music by combining it with established psychological techniques and Taoist ideas to createan innovative concept: your music collection can help you overcome the obstacles of everyday life.” –, Recommended Reads

“No matter how you use it, The Tao of Music offers an enchanting program for channeling life’s pain — and heightening its beauty.” – One Spirit: Book of the Month Club

The Tao of Music by John Ortiz is, to me, a continuation of The Mozart Effect. Here is a therapist who uses music in his practice. His book is broken down into issues that we all deal with at some time in our life. After a brief discussion of the topic, he then relates exercises to change or help with the problem being worked on. Then he gives you a Musical Menu from which to choose the music that can be played with the exercises. These menus cover not only traditional classical music, but also the popular music of our time. With so much music in our world, it is wonderful to have someone who has already tried and tested the effects of these different artists and their music. Enjoy.” – Delores DeVore, Aquarius

“Dr. John M. Ortiz’s The Tao of Music: Sound Psychologysuccessfully combines the mystery of Taoism and the healing power of music with case histories and well-documented therapeutic techniques. The result is a resource as unique and easy to use as it is comprehensive. Each chapter is self-sufficient. Only a composer-musician-psychologist-hypnotist like Dr. Ortiz would dare attempt to orchestrate such divergent and complex disciplines into a single resource. The result is a symphony of concepts, terms, and techniques whose melodies flow in and out of one another to the rhythm of the ‘Hear and Now’.” – Linda J. Thorlakson, Independent Publisher

“Find out how to address personal issues, achieve emotional well being, enhance creativity, and explore your spirituality — all through the power of music. This book includes amazingly effective exercises that are both fun and easy.” – Alexandria

Instead of chasing down the ‘whys?’ and ‘wherefores’ of mental or emotional pain, follow Dr. Ortiz’s Tao as the framework for alleviating it. You don’t have to memorize anything – just have some fun, and the sooner you start focusing on music, the sooner you’ll start to feel better!” – New Leaf, Gill & MacMillan Publishing

The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology is featured in the 1999 edition of the Vision River Guide, ‘a guide composed of excerpts from classic and cutting-edge books on the subjects of energy medicine and transformation’.” – Gary R. Smith, Vision River


The following are excerpts from reader’s comments that have been sent in to and Barnes and Noble web sites. For the full reviews please log on to the respective sites.
Fantastic Professional Resource 

“Having read this excellent book I can honestly say that it is a wise, cost effective investment. The fact that each clearly written, well researched chapter stands on its own makes it very easy to find a topic one is dealing with and putting together a personalized program from amount the many practical exercises suggested. As a professional trainer I find this book takes an added dimension and provides an excellent resource for anyone designing programs to address many typical issues encountered throughout corporate or industrial settings. I recommend the Tao of Music highly both as a professional resource for trainers and a personal tool to help address day to day situations.” – Julian Evans, Corporate Trainer, New York City, August 2000

A book filled with smiles and positive pathways
(Complete review)

“The most amazing thing about this wonderful book is the way it addresses essentially every area of concern that one encounters on a daily basis. The subtitle is accurate: music CAN help us to take control of, and positively change, our lives. This is so well written, and flows so pleasantly, that — particularly for a self-help book — it is hard to put down! The case stories throughout it are very helpful and in way sensationalistic, like in so many other similar books.  These stories are pertinent and help to clarify other points made throughout the text. I have turned to this book many times seeking creative alternatives to ways of approaching typical situations that we all encounter day to day. It has NEVER let me down! Having recommended, or purchased it for a number of friends their opinion consistently supports my own. The book, as well as his relaxation CD that complements it (The Soothing Pulse) are marvelous. Filled with smiles and positive pathways.” – Harrisburg, PA.  August, 1999

Five Stars –

Bravo!  Encore!

As a clinician I recommend this well-researched and scholarly, yet highly accessible volume, to colleagues in the mental health and social service fields wholeheartedly. I recommend this book HIGHLY”  – E. Griswold, Cambridge, MA.    July, 1999

Five Stars –

Amazingly Thorough  

“Filled with powerful insights this amazingly thorough book seems to cover just about every human condition in a simple to read, practical style. The book also contains numerous original Zen-type parables throughout that serve to emphasize the ideas and approaches in practical, creative ways. These ‘music-psychology-philosophy’ gems are easily worth the price of admission. This book is a great discovery and would serve as a wonderful adjunct in most music classes.” – Jackie Wallers, Music Teacher, Writer, Consultant. July, 2000    Quincy, MA.

Five Stars –

The “Right” Effect

“This is a book that is obviously, exhaustively researched and that does not make any other-worldly claims. In plain, simple language it lists hundreds of realistic exercises that can be appreciated and done by anyone. Buy it, you’ll like it!” – Texas, March, 2000

Five Stars –

Like a Good Friend  

“Like a good friend, this book is there when you need support, fresh, objective ideas, humor, creative alternatives, wisdom, and, perhaps most of all, love. A loving work of art that opens new doors each time you look inside.” – Baltimore, Md.   January, 2000

Five Stars –

Superbly crafted and diligently researched.

As a psychologist, parent and music therapist I have to say that this is — without a doubt — the most practical, accessible, and straightforward book in the bunch. Writing from the heart, Dr. Ortiz has crafted a work of love that speaks of personal journeys and professional pursuits that have culminated into a book to assist people of all ages in dealing with common, everyday concerns. This book is both a pleasure and a treasure, as both a parent and a professional I give it my highest recommendation.” – Boston, MA.   June, 1999

Five Stars –

I love this book! 

“Dr. Ortiz gives us a wonderful, well researched book. There is something for everyone! His obvious love of music comes through every page. I look at music differently now and I have a much greater appreciation for all types of music. The use of ‘Music Menus’ is great fun. I am much more aware now of how music affects my moods. I also love the ‘Soothing Pulse’ CD by Dr. Ortiz.” – M. Daly, St. Louis, Mo.       May , 1999

Five Stars –

Highly Recommended! 

“I loved this book! In very understandable terms, it defines what many of us have done for years, use music to change and orchestrate our moods and lives. Juxtaposing human interest stories with the musicology techniques kept me interested throughout. I appreciate Dr. Ortizs empowering average individuals to use the tools at their disposal (music!) to improve themselves. I found the ‘Tao’ to be a caring, unique book.” – Maywood, N.J.    November, 1998

Five Stars –

Very Helpful  

John Ortiz has provided professionals and lay-persons alike with an invaluable resource in The Tao of Music. As amusician and occupational therapist, I am presently sharing the joy and healing power of music with persons having a variety of maladies, including the general ‘well’ public who wants to maintain wellness. In my work, I use Dr. Ortizs book as a guide for such areas as depression, insomnia, stress management, aging, and pain management. With the inclusion of popular, classical and New Age listings, we are given a wide variety of musically nourishing selections from which to discover what appeals to our individual ‘tastebuds.’ Ortiz goes to great lengths to emphasize that music plays an important part in healing without being a quick fix, and to bring us solidly substantiated research in this exciting field.  His work clearly comes from many dedicated years of working with people and researching, as well as having a passion for music. It is truly a work of love, from his heart to ours.” – Mary McCartney, Ft. Collins, Co.  October, 1998

Five Stars –

The Tao of Music is an absolute delight! 

This book is filled with wonderful, well researched, practical information. The case stories presented throughout the book are fascinating and inspirational. The exercises are excellently described, simple to follow and, best of all, they work!” – D. Pauley, Richmond, Va.     January, 1998

                         Five Stars –