Interview – Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros did me a great honor in taking time to answer a few of my questions:

1) How do you define music?

What ever is sounding depending on how I am listening.


What I don’t want to listen to.

Is there a difference?

The difference is in how I am listening.

2) When you’re organizing sound (composing) in your current practice, are you thinking about any of these: melodies, harmonies, rhythms, sounds, frequency relationships, form, improvisation? What kind of framework do you use for composing?

I don’t like the idea of “framework”. Too limited.

How has this changed over the years?

From just listening to what I wanted to hear and notating it to conceptualizing instructions for how to make the sounds I want to hear.

3) When you improvise by yourself how are you listening to yourself?

My ears are receiving the sounds that I make and sending the signals to my brain where I listen – interpret, decide.

How are you responding?

My body is responding as it listen.

How about when improvising with others?

No difference.

Do you consider yourself having a “style” of improvisation?

It is what it is when it is.

4) How has your practice of listening informed your understanding of the mind/body structure?

The body is faster than the mind.

How does it play into your day to day experiences?

Depends on how I am listening.

5) If the world we could see was audible what would it sound like?

How would I know?

6) Can you give me two listening exercises and two compositional exercises to do that might help me explore making my visible world audible?

Look until you sound.
Don’t look until you sound.
Compose the rhythm of your looking.
Compose the textures of what you see.

7) Where do you think the forefront of music is currently, in terms of music being created in ways that haven’t happened before?

Large group composition on the internet.

What are areas to explore that haven’t been?

I don’t know yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *