A giant of the avant-garde shows us how to listen.
Pauline Oliveros is one of modern music's most important figures, precisely because her work transcends music itself. While many people have heard of her contemporaries like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Oliveros' five decades of work is so wide-reaching that popular culture has barely kept up. She was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the '60s, and devised a musical concept called Deep Listening, which stemmed from a trip into a giant underground cistern with a 45-second reverb. Those echoes led to an exploration of the difference between hearing and listening and a pursuit of a heightened state of awareness in sound. Oliveros' ideas have inspired not only musicians and music fans but scientists, philosophers and everyday people to think about the link that listening builds between us and our surroundings. So while recordings like Crone Music and Deep Listening are heralded by experimental music and drone heads alike, Oliveros is equally acclaimed for devising instruments for disabled people and teaching students with no formal music training to improvise together.
John Cage was a fan and so is Rabih Beaini, AKA Morphosis, who recently released Fire Above Sky Below Now on his label Morphine, exposing Oliveros to yet another audience of potential converts. She's now 84 years old and still performs and educates around the globe, and when she spoke to Mark Smith at CTM Festival in Berlin, she gave an insight into the mind of woman whose creative impact is still reverberating.