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Six Week Series: Experiments in Sound Meditation - Part 3


Experiments in Sound Meditation
Join us for a six-week series devoted to the practice of Deep Listening, as coined/taught/enacted by the late composer Pauline Oliveros. (Please see below for background on Pauline Oliveros.)

For one hour, once a week, we will focus on sound. Listening first, with an eye (ear) toward healing, toward a collective experience more than the sum of its parts. There will be vocal and percussive sound production involved at different points. The space will be available for conversation/debriefing/relaxing afterwards. All ages welcome. No prior meditation or musical experience necessary.

Tuesdays, September 18 - October 23 2018, 7-8pm

Pre-registration appreciated: here. Tickets are pay-what-you-like. Suggested donation: $5-10 per week for use of the space, meaning $30-60 total.

Facilitated by Layne Garrett, who is an improvising musician and instrument builder based in Washington DC. He works with prepared guitars, found objects, and self-built instruments. He plays in the improvising duo Weed Tree with drummer Amanda Huron, as well as in regular and irregular collaborations with a spectrum of players from across the DC and Baltimore sound universe. He is an active promoter of the musical culture, hosting house shows for the past decade+ and more recently as a founding member and curator for Rhizome DC. He leads instrument building and sound exploration workshops and camps for kids at various educational institutions around town. He has travelled to play at events like High Zero in Baltimore, XFest in Massachusetts, Voice of the Valley Noise Rally in West Virginia, H-O-T Series of Improvised Music and Dance in Philadelphia, and Frantasia Festival of Out Music and Arts in Maine. Other activities have included facilitating a large-scale tape-loop intervention in Rock Creek Park, constructing participatory installations for the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music and for the DC Listening Lounge's annual Sound Scene event (including the past 3 years at the Hirshhorn Museum), and building a playable gong-map of the USA out of found car metal. In reference to a particular large freestanding sound structure he built, a collaborator commented: "man i would really love to play that big baby for 12 hours straight it is obviously a meditation key."

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.”