W. A. Mathieu

William Allaudin Mathieu (born 1937) is a composer, pianist, choir director, music teacher, and author. He began recording his music and compositions in the 1970s on his record label, Cold Mountain Music. Mathieu has composed and recorded solo piano works, chamber pieces, choral music, and song cycles, and he has written four books on music, music theory, and how to live a musical life.


Allaudin was a disciple of North Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath for 25 years. He studied with William Russo and Easley Blackwood, and collaborated with Nubian master musician Hamza El Din.

In the 1960s (as Bill Mathieu), he spent several years as an arranger and composer for Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington orchestras.[1] Kenton's album Standards in Silhouette consists entirely of Mathieu's arrangements[2] and revealed the young Mathieu (then 22 years of age) to be an adept manipulator of compositional materials.

He was one of the founders and the musical director for The Second City in Chicago,[3] the first ongoing improvisational theater troupe in the United States, and was later the musical director for The Committee, an improv theater in San Francisco that was an offshoot of The Second City. In the 1970s, he was on the faculties of San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mills College. In 1969, Allaudin founded the Sufi Choir in San Francisco among followers of Samuel L. Lewis, and he directed the choir until 1982.


Solo piano

  • Songs of Samsara (Cold Mountain Music, 2009)
  • Three Compositions for Piano (Cold Mountain Music, 2002)
  • Narratives (Cold Mountain Music, 2002)
  • Available Light (Windham Hill, 1987)
  • Listening to Evening (Sona Gaia, 1985)

Multitrack compositions

  • Streaming Wisdom/In the Wind (Cold Mountain Music, compilation; remastered 2004)
  • Second Nature (Cold Mountain Music, 1983; remastered 2004)
  • In the WInd (Cold Mountain Music, 1983)
  • Streaming Wisdom (Cold Mountain Music, 1981)

Song cycles, instrumental compositions, and improvisations

  • First String Quartet, with The Galax Quartet (Cold Mountain Music, 2016)
  • Magic Clavier Book I – Twelve Etudes in Extended Modality (Noam Lemish, piano) and Seven Solo and Duo Improvisations Noam Lemish and W. A. Mathieu, piano) (Cold Mountain Music, 2016)
  • 5:4 – Compositions for Piano, ("The Poet Variations" on a theme by Robert Schumann, Marilyn Morales, piano solo; "Five Poems / Four Hands," Kirk Whipple & Marilyn Morales, piano duo; "Four Improvisations / Twenty Fingers," W. A. Mathieu & Kirk Whipple, piano duo) (Cold Mountain Music, 2015)
  • Café Hafiz – Twenty-One Songs for Your Serious Entertainment, with Devi Mathieu, soprano (Cold Mountain Music, 2014)
  • Antiphons Across Time / Flower of the Maiden – The Music of Hildegard von Bingen, with Trio Ephemeros (Devi Mathieu, W. A. Mathieu, Shira Kammen) (Cold Mountain Music, 2013)
  • The Indian Parrot (Mutable Music, 2006)
  • Rumi and Strings (Cold Mountain Music, 2005)
  • Say I Am You - Four Song Cycles from the Poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi (Cold Mountain Music, 2003)

Duets and trios

  • Full Bloom – Trios for Piano and Percussion, with George Marsh and Jennifer Wilsey (Cold Mountain Music, 2014)
  • The Bloom – Trios for Piano and Percussion, with George Marsh and Jennifer Wilsey (Cold Mountain Music, 2011)
  • Game/No Game with George Marsh (Mutable Music, 2004)
  • This Marriage (Cold Mountain Music, 2002)

Ensemble improvisation

Big Band

The Sufi Choir

  • Remembrance (Cold Mountain Music, 1983; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)
  • The Sufi Choir sings Robert Bly's versions of Kabir (Cold Mountain Music, 1980; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)
  • Stone in the Sky (Cold Mountain Music, 1976; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)
  • The Sufi Dance & Song Record (Cold Mountain Music, 1975; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)
  • Cryin' for Joy (Cold Mountain Music, 1974; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)
  • The Sufi Choir aka The Blue Album (Cold Mountain Music, 1973; remastered, 2008; reissued on CD, 2011)


  • Poems of Gary Snyder, with Karen Clark, contralto + Galax Quartet (composers Fred Frith, W. A. Mathieu, Robert Morris, Roy Whelden) (2011)
  • Centerpeace, 2010 collaboration with Andrew York

Audio books

  • The Listening Book and The Musical Life – Audio Edition], 2-CD set (Manifest Spirit, 2008)


  • The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music (1991) Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0-87773-610-3.
  • The Musical Life: Reflections On What It Is and How to Live It (1994) Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0-87773-670-7.
  • Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression (1997) Inner Traditions Intl Ltd. ISBN 0-89281-560-4.
  • Bridge of Waves: What Music Is and How Listening to It Changes the World (2010) Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-59030-732-1.

Harmonic Experience (561 pages) offers a view of music theory that harmonizes Western and Eastern perspectives. Understanding can be actively enhanced by utilizing its autodidactic ear-training and sight-singing exercises, especially using singing sargam syllables over a drone such as a tamboura or possibly a Western fifth played in just intonation. Mathieu is described as Neo-Riemannian[1] and he cites Ernst Levy, who wrote of harmonic polarity and undertones, as an influence.[4] The book has been praised by musicians John Coltrane and Pete Seeger[5]

An audio edition of The Listening Book was issued in 1991 by Shambhala Lion Editions. That audio material was remastered and issued along with new audio material read from The Musical Life in 2008 as a 2-CD set (W. A. Mathieu reads from The Listening Book and The Musical Life) on Manifest Spirit Records.


  1. Carey, Norman (2002-03-01). "W. A. Mathieu. Harmonic Experience. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1997". Music Theory Spectrum. 24 (1): 121–134. doi:10.1525/mts.2002.24.1.121. ISSN 0195-6167.
  2. Grimm, William (8 Oct 2002). "Stan Kenton: Standards in Silhouette". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  3. Coda Magazine: Issue 319–330
  4. Yang, Chien-chang (2000). "Review of Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression". Notes. 56 (3): 687–689. ISSN 0027-4380. JSTOR 899661.
  5. "Harmonic Experience". www.innertraditions.com. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
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