Composer Pauline Oliveros wrote frequently about what it means to listen throughout her career, which spanned over half a century and encompassed electronic works, compositions for magnetic tape, improvisation and exercises in focus and reflection designed to deepen everyday engagement with sound. As a composer and accordionist, she significantly contributed to the development of electronic music, and the culmination of her life-long fascination with music and sound is what inspired the practice of Deep Listening, the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions.
As the artist herself put it: “…If you are too narrow in your awareness of sounds, you are likely to be disconnected from your environment… Listening is a lifetime practice that depends on accumulated experiences with sound; it can be focused to detail or open to the entire field of sound.”
Though Oliveros died in 2016, her music and her mentorship have inspired thousands of artists around the globe, and her Deep Listening Meditations practice continues to be shared among sound artists, healers and non-musicians alike. Oliveros was a leader in “listening outside the box” and has one of the most committed followings one can find in music. Recordings continue to surface of workshops and performances, and interest in her written work, as well as her performance practices, continues to grow. There is hardly an improvising musician anywhere who has not been in some way touched by Pauline Oliveros.
As with most experiential music, the end results occasionally fall in the “you had to be there” category, and it is not unusual to find recordings that were inspiring to play but had a lesser focus on the product. Such is the case with The NetCast Improvisation with the group Reynols (Miguel Tomasin, drums; guitarist Roberto Conlazo, guitarist Anla Courtis) plus Monique Buzzarté, trombone and Kevin McCoy, computer processing. Comprising two 20-minute-plus tracks recorded in 1999, they stand as one of Oliveros’ earliest collaborations via the Internet. Not an easy listen, but a relevant part of the Oliveros archive, and a reminder to check in with the Deep Listening practice during these troubled times.