Deep Listening Convergence

Deep Listening Convergence

Date posted: 2007-06-08 10:52:29

From Friday's TU: Meditative music mines the depths of listening


In 1988, accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros made a recording  
with a trombone player and a percussionist inside a 2 million-gallon  
empty cistern buried 14 feet below ground at Fort Worden, near Port  
Townsend, Wash. The resulting CD on New Albion Records was titled  
"Deep Listening," a play on the unusual location and also an apt  
description of the trio's meditative and reverberant improvisations.

Soon thereafter, Oliveros realized "Deep Listening" more broadly  
described the aesthetic approach to contemporary music she had been  
pursuing for 30 years. While it can seem abstract, deep listening  
might be described as "musical mindfulness," in which the composer or  
other artist approaches the work from a position of deep awareness.
Oliveros began using the term in her myriad activities as a performer  
and teacher, and started offering training and certification in deep  
listening techniques. A few years ago, she renamed her Kingston-based  
organization the Deep Listening Institute.

Deep listening is no longer underground. This weekend, three Hudson  
Valley locations will host concerts that mark the culmination of the  
Deep Listening Convergence, a coming-together of 45 musicians from  
across North America and Europe that began in January with online  
dialogues and rehearsals.

Yes, online rehearsals. Since the 1950s, when she experimented with  
the then-new medium of electronic tape, Oliveros, 74, has remained at  
the forefront of technology, and the Internet has long been one of  
her tools. Participants in the Deep Listening Convergence used the  
networking program Skype to improvise and rehearse new compositions.  
Like a telephone conference call, Skype allows up to 10 computers to  
give and receive audio and video information in real time.
"I was sitting here in my kitchen and hearing four people from  
different cities in Switzerland and four from Canada and others from  
the U.S.," said Oliveros last week from her home in Kingston. "It was  
great. They did a long and goofy improvisation."

Whether they are goofy or serious or a bit of both, a lot of deep  
listening compositions are in store this weekend. Each of the three  
concerts, at venues in Troy, Hudson and High Falls, will have a  
different program of new works, from solos to large ensemble pieces.  
The instruments at hand are also diverse, and will include  
traditional Western instruments, drums and folk instruments, plus  
electronics. Vocalizing and some movement will be part of the mix as  

Among the new works is "Spiral Tap," by Sarah Weaver, 29, a  
trombonist and composer from Chicago. She composed the new work using  
deep listening techniques to explore the number sequences represented  
in the spirals of a seashell. It will be performed by six musicians  
playing conch shells.

"Everyone using the (Deep Listening) system is more in touch with  
their authentic selves and a new level of communication is available  
that's not there in other compositional systems," says Weaver, who's  
in the process of moving to New Paltz. She plans to become Oliveros'  
apprentice in Kingston and also start an ensemble in Manhattan.
Like most of the participants in the convergence, Weaver has  
completed a three-year training to become certified in deep  
listening. Over the years, Oliveros has spread the word -- and the  
sound -- of deep listening far and wide. Her institute offers a  
variety of special workshops and summer retreats, and Oliveros has  
been teaching deep listening at RPI for the past six years.

One method Oliveros uses to track the reach of deep listening is a  
"Google Alert," in which the search engine sends her a message every  
time it spots a new Web site using the term.

"I get alerts every day," says Oliveros. "The usage includes all  
kinds of musicians and it includes religious and spiritual groups.  
It's becoming very common."
Deep Listening Convergence

What: Bringing together 45 composers/performers from across the  
United States and Europe to three days of music-making and listening.

When: 8 p.m. Friday, The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 Sixth  
Ave., Troy; 8 p.m. Saturday, Time & Space Limited, 434 Columbia St.,  
Hudson; 3 p.m. Sunday, LifeBridge Sanctuary, 333 Mountain Road, High  

Tickets: $8-$10 per concert

Info: (845) 338-5984; />