Friday, December 02, 2016

Pauline Oliveros RIP

Pauline Oliveros (May 30, 1932 – November 25, 2016) passed away in November.  She was one of the early musicians that experimented with electronic music, along with musical concrete--a way to combine music, snippets of sound, found sound of machinery or whatever else and snip up tape to create an aural sound composition.

Pauline Oliveros Women Early Gurus of Electronic Music. Central figure in the development of experimental and post-war electronic art music.
* Extract from An interview with Pauline Oliveros
By Alan Baker, American Public Media, January 2003

Let's talk a little bit about… or maybe you can just tell me about your arrival in California and what eventually led you to electronics.

Well, I arrived in California in 1952. I had my accordion and $300. I supported myself with a day job for about 9 months, and then I began to get a string of accordion students. I went back to school at San Francisco State where I met Terry Riley, Lauren Rush and Stuart Dempster. We've been friends since then, and still work together in one way or another. When I arrived there I didn't know anyone, and I had to make my own way. I began to play my accordion at casual engagements, and so on. Eventually, through going to school at San Francisco State College, I met Robert Erickson who became my mentor and teacher for 6 or 7 years. I met, as I said before, my friends, and I became connected with a kind of group of people who were interested in new music. This eventually led to the founding of the San Francisco Tape Music Center with Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, which was transferred after several years to Mills College and became the Center for Contemporary Music. It is still there as that today. So that's a brief nutshell history of my arrival in San Francisco.

Below is a lecture she is giving much later in life on music and deep listening:
From a site:  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.

Go here to hear a 45 minute piece by her.  There are also recordings on Youtube that are quite arresting and beautiful.

Here is a live concert that they shot on film of one of her performances with some other musicians.







2 comments:

Richard Bellush said...

Interesting stuff, oddly reminiscent of the music of the Krell in Forbidden Planet (1956): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNKhju6Pryg

Perhaps when we have gone the way of the Krell, future visitors to earth will find and appreciate it as Morbius does.

El Vox said...

Yeah, I always enjoyed the score to Forbidden Planet. What a great movie. That movie was done, of course, before synthesizers so they had to go about making it differently.
Harlan Ellison said he wanted to see a sequel to Forbidden Planet, which I bet he didn't say very many times about Hollywood films. He wanted to know where the Krell went, and perhaps more about their archive underneath the planet surface. I'd go for that too.