Music-thanatology is a professional field that utilizes harp and vocal music to serve dying patients and their loved ones. During a music vigil, the music-thanatologist responds moment by moment to the patient’s needs using music in a prescriptive way.

A music vigil can help to manage symptoms and relieve suffering. It is a quiet, meditative space for dying patients and their loved ones. For some, it may provide an opportunity for the work of meaning-making at the end of life.

The Music-Thanatology Association International provides an online list of music-thanatologists. You may search by location. They also provide an online list of articles about music-thanatology.

You may wish to attend the annual Music-Thanatology Association International conference, held annually in the fall. All are welcome to join at the Friend level and then register for the conference.


From Behind the Harp: Music in End of Life Care, is available on Amazon. The website provides links to online videos about music-thanatology.

Roberts Music offers recordings and the writing of Australian music-thanatologist Peter Roberts, including his book, The Harp and the Ferryman.

Sacred Flight, a music-thanatology practice in Portland, OR, has an online shop with books and CDs by music-thanatologists. You can hear samples of the CD “Cleansing Sighs” here.

Music-thanatologist Gary Plouff has two CDs.

Music-thanatologist Judith Shotwell wrote and performs Sailing by Night.