Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pauline Oliveros

On recommendation from a friend, I bought the back issues of "Signal to Noise," journal of improvised and experimental music.  It features wonderful artists from Elliot Carter, to Anthony Braxton, to George Clinton, to the current issue I am reading today, with Pauline Oliveros.  By the way, to order all the back issues, 50+ magazines, costs a measly 80 affordable is that!  So Pauline Oliveros is an electronic composer, accordionist, music philosopher/theorist.  You could say she was at the start of early electronic music, as well as early minimalism, and add free improvisation, that she cites she was doing with composer Terry Riley in 1956.  I read a book by her not too long ago titled, "Software for People," featuring her collected writings, pieces, observations, sketches, etc...  What inspired me was her search for Deep Listening, discovering an awareness of listening to everything, all the time, regardless of how minute the sound.   For awhile I was trying out her idea of taking five or ten minutes out of your day, and writing down every possible sound that you are hearing, to the smallest degree, such as your own breath, heartbeat, or even the blood flowing in your veins.  The point is to practice your "virtuosic listening" abilities, by deepening your awareness of the sounds around you.  I bring all this up because of a piece mentioned in this article with her, talking about a composer she worked with named Ramon Sender.

"Sender's "Tropical Fish Opera" placed the the performers in front of an aquarium of full of tropical fish.  The idea was to put staff lines on the aquarium...and the fish were the notes. You'd play them as they went by and appeared on the staff lines." 
-Pauline Oliveros

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