“Through Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening I finally know what harmony is…It’s about the pleasure of making music.”
-John Cage 1989
Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) was a signal figure in contemporary American music. Her career spanned fifty+ years of boundary dissolving music making. In the ’50s she was part of a circle of iconoclastic composers, artists, poets gathered together in San Francisco (a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center). In 2012 she received the John Cage award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts. Oliveros was Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College. Oliveros was as interested in finding new sounds as in finding new uses for old ones–her primary instrument, the accordion–an unexpected visitor perhaps to musical cutting edge, but one which she approached in much the same way that a Zen musician might approach the Japanese shakuhachi. Pauline Oliveros’ life as a composer, performer and humanitarian is about opening her own and others’ sensibilities to the universe and facets of sounds. Since the 1960’s she influenced American music profoundly through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. Pauline Oliveros is the founder of “Deep Listening,” which comes from her childhood fascination with sounds and from her works in concert music with composition, improvisation and electro-acoustics. Pauline Oliveros describes Deep Listening as a way of listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening is my life practice,” she explained, simply. Oliveros is founder of Deep Listening Institute, formerly Pauline Oliveros Foundation, now directed by her partner, Ione (Carole Ione Lewis, a writer and performance artist).