“Listening is rarely explored or taught even in music schools. Reading and writing skills seem to receive more emphasis by educators than listening skills, even though listening is equally important and may be more essential for learning in all disciplines as well as music,” Oliveros has written of her practice and her theory. Deep Listening distinguishes the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening and cultivates appreciation of sounds on a heightened level, expanding the potential for connection and interaction with one’s environment, technology and performance with others in music and related arts.
“I gradually released the need to control pitch and rhythm through conventional notation in favor of the freedom to sculpt sound in time. Notation was no longer important to me when I began working on tape with electronic sound in the late ‘50s. Parallel to this development was my work in solo and group improvisation. Group improvisation was collaboration with a few like-minded colleagues. Our concerts of electronic music were liberally laced with free group improvisations – unheard-of in concert music at the time.”
Over the years, Oliveros’ Deep Listening Institute has worked to foster creativity in artists of all ages and levels of artistic development by holding workshops and retreats; performing and publishing new work; and developing new performance technologies. It’s a creativity-receptive space, and as perfect a location to welcome in a New Year as any – especially when one considers the great traditions inherent in the occasion, and DLS’s Ione’s way with mystically expanding and personalizing eternal rituals, as she will with her call for a wider sense of prosperity in the months and other time elapses to come. Concurrently, there will be an opening for a new exhibition, “Covers: Non-Sequential Artwork” by Nico Bovoso.
“I would like the: Ability to recognize and identify instantaneously any frequency or combination of frequencies in any tuning, timbre in any tempo or rhythm, in any style of music or sound in any space. Ability to produce any frequency or sound in any tuning, timing, timbre, dynamic and articulation within the limits of the selected instruments or voices used. Maybe I would also like to morph from any instrument to any other instrument or voice at will. Ability to recognize, identify and remember any music – its parts as well as the whole, no matter the complexity. Ability to perceive and comprehend interdimensional spatiality,” Oliveros has said and written. “Ability to understand the relational wisdom that comprehends the nature of musical energy – its form, parts and underlying spirituality – as the music develops in performance. Ability to perceive and comprehend the spiritual connection and interdependence of all beings and all creation as the basis and privilege of music-making. Ability to create community and healing through music-making. Ability to sound and perceive the far reaches of the universe, much as whales sound and perceive the vastness of the oceans. This could set the stage for interdimensional galactic improvisations with yet-unknown beings.” And then she added, in her sly way, that she supposed “it would be great to be able to print it all out as well in 3D color.”
Oliveros has influenced American music extensively in her career spanning more than 60 years, through her experimentations with improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation. During the mid-‘60s she served as the first director of the Tape Music Center at Mills College, followed by 14 years as professor of Music and three years as director of the Center for Music Experiment at the University of California at San Diego. Since 2001 she has served as distinguished research professor of Music in the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is engaged in research on a National Science Foundation Creative IT project. She also serves as Darius Milhaud composer-in-residence at Mills College, and is the recipient of the 2009 William Schuman Award from Columbia University for lifetime achievement.
All of this weekend’s activities occur this Saturday, January 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Deep Listening Space at the Shirt Factory at 77 Cornell Street, Suite 303, in Midtown Kingston. Call (845) 338-5984 or visit www.deeplistening.org for further information.