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Book Review: Transcendent Waves: How Listening Shapes Our Creative Lives by Lavender Suarez

Lavender Suarez’s slim volume Transcendent Waves is a neat little book. In just over 100 pages, Suarez guides artists on how sound affects creative practices. It’s not directly for musicians or about music; music itself is only quickly mentioned. (But slow enough to make a bonus argument against streaming services!) The focus is much more on sounds, which is an interesting take. I usually prefer books on creative business to books on creative practice, but the content of this one was compelling and easy to get into.

Suarez encourages artists of all media to evaluate the sound around and within them as part of getting in tune with surroundings, tapping into flow state, and ultimately being creative. It’s set up as a friendly guide with serious meaning for the artistic professional–much of the writing is in short sections that feel like bits of a warm conversation with Suarez. Sections commenting on negative aspects of sound (noise pollution, listening to climate change, etc.) don’t quite fit the flow and feel of the book, but overall the vibe is easygoing and the takeaways are plentiful.

The design of the book contributes to the comfortable nature of the work. Instead of being black words on a white page, each of the sections has brightly-colored background pages (dark blue, teal, kelly green and–yes–lavender) and lovely fonts. Suarez uses her handwriting to leave prompts for the reader to ponder about their own relationship with sound, which further create a unique visual aspect to the book. The stark, line-drawn art throughout is also charming. The cover and back page tap into a lightly psychedelic vibe that tries to depict the waves of the title, and the art fits right in with the mood. The design of the book is just as compelling as the content, which is a high praise from this corner.

If you’re looking for a book to help you consider your own creative practice in a new way, Transcendent Waves could give you a new angle on it. And it looks great, to boot!