Second in a series of evenings dedicated to exploring meditative consciousness through attention to sound. We will celebrate the legacy of the late Pauline Oliveros, who died in November, by carrying out one of her Sonic Meditations, which are vehicles to meditative group connectedness and healing via deep listening and sound production. No experience necessary.
7pm / donations for the space appreciated
Pauline Oliveros (May 30, 1932 – November 24, 2016) was an American composer, accordionist and a central figure in the development of experimental and post-war electronic art music. She was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, and served as its director. She taught music at Mills College, UCSD, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Oliveros authored books, formulated new music theories, and investigated new ways to focus attention on music including her concepts of "Deep Listening" and "sonic awareness".
Oliveros produced “Sonic Meditations,” a set of 25 text-based instructions meant to provoke thoughtful, creative responses.
“Native,” the most commonly cited example, is also the most succinct: “Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.”
Embedded within that poetic instruction and the other meditations was a substantial proposition: a total inclusivity, meant to free music from elite specialists and open it up to everyone, regardless of status, experience, or ability.
“All societies admit the power of music or sound. Attempts to control what is heard in the community are universal,” Ms. Oliveros wrote in a preface to the meditations. “Sonic Meditations are an attempt to return the control of sound to the individual alone, and within groups especially for humanitarian purposes; specifically healing.”
Like much of her work, Oliveros’s “Meditations” posited listening as a fully embodied pursuit—a posture of attending to sounds and to the world.... They began as sound and body experiments within a women’s group.... In the midst of America’s current political chaos, her “Meditations” make a timely case for listening as a form of activism....
Considered as a healing practice—or a “tuning of mind and body”—Oliveros’s “Sonic Meditations” are, to an extent, unique in the history of musical experimentalism. In these works, experiments were not conducted on the music; the music was an experiment on the self. Anyone searching today for the complete box set of “Sonic Meditations” won’t find it, because, as the composer wrote, “music is a welcome by-product” of this composition. The experiments remain in each listener. Oliveros’s aims were clear: these works were intended to be transformational, even therapeutic, enacting lasting changes on the body and mind.
While she spent years immersed in introspective experimentation, Oliveros’s “Sonic Meditations” shouldn’t be mistaken for escapism or disengagement. The composer described listening as a necessary pause before thoughtful action: “Listening is directing attention to what is heard, gathering meaning, interpreting and deciding on action.”