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Pauline Oliveros — Alien Bog (1967) / Beautiful Soop (1966)

Pauline Oliveros — Alien Bog (1967) / Beautiful Soop (1966)
Pogus Productions [P-21012-2], 1966–67

Starting in the 1960s, Pauline Oliveros’ work as a composer and accordionist explored improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. Based on her childhood fascination with sounds, and from her work in composition, improvisation and electroacoustics, she founded “Deep Listening”, a way of listening in every possible way to make everything possible to hear — the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one’s own thoughts, as well as musical sounds. Oliveros’s works have been performed across the world and she has been widely commissioned by individual artists and ensembles. Oliveros received many awards, including a SEAMUS Award for Lifetime Achievement for Pioneering Work in ElectroAcoustic Music (1999), the William Schuman Award for Lifetime Achievement (Columbia University, 2009), John Cage Award (2012) and a Giga-Hertz-Award for Lifetime Achievement in Electronic Music (ZKM, 2012). Oliveros founded the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (formerly the Pauline Oliveros Foundation). She was a frequent lecturer at universities in the USA and Europe and was a Professor of Music (1967–1981) at the University of California, San Diego. Oliveros was Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College.

Image courtesy of the Center for Contemporary Music Archives, Mills College. © Pogus Productions. Cover layout: Matthew Schickele.

Pauline Oliveros (1932–2016) — composer, improviser, accordionist and creative listener — is acknowledged worldwide for her pioneering efforts as a musician, teacher and meditative artist. Often, however, her importance as a principal founder of American electroacoustic music is eclipsed by her considerable success as a proponent and developer of the Sonic Meditations (ca. 1970–74), a series of interactive pieces intended to encourage focused listening and cooperative musicianship among group members, as well as an active awareness of the sonic possibilities inherent in our environment. 1[1. See, for example, Kerry O’Brien, “Listening as Activism: The ‘Sonic Meditations’ of Pauline Oliveros,” The New Yorker, 9 December 2016.] With the formation of the Deep Listening Band in 1988, Oliveros has effectively combined the contemplative æsthetic of the Meditations with her considerable creative knowledge and abilities in the electroacoustic medium in a series of recordings including Troglodyte’s Delight (1990), The Ready-Made Boomerang (1991) and Tosca Salad (1995). The success of the Band and their concerts of all-encompassing sonic events utilizing a sophisticated coupling of digital delay systems and the natural acoustics of the performance space have served to generate a great amount of interest and study of one of the first Americans to incorporate music technology in her creative repertoire.

The release of Alien Bog (1967 / 33:15) and Beautiful Soop (1966 / 27:49) on this remarkable historical compact disc from Pogus Productions provides a valuable resource for composers and scholars searching for the roots of American electroacoustic creativity. Until its release, the earliest Oliveros works available were her Bye Bye Butterfly (1965) [Audio 1] and I of IV (1966), both of which utilize similar technology to the pieces presented in this new recording. Created with Don Buchla’s 100 series analogue synthesizer built for the San Francisco Tape Music Center 2[2. Founded in 1966 by Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender with the assistance of Oliveros.] and a self-developed tape delay system, both Alien Bog and Beautiful Soop illustrate facets of the composer’s æsthetic that continue in her music today.

Audio 1 (0:40). Excerpt from Pauline Oliveros — Bye Bye Butterfly (1965), for tape.

For Alien Bog, Oliveros used the Buchla to synthetically evoke and amplify the natural sonic ambience of a frog pond existing outside the window of the original Mills College studios. In a quote from Oliveros found within the CD programme notes, she remarks upon the influence of the frogs’ music upon her work, acknowledging the early manifestation of the environmental awareness characterizing her entire catalogue of compositions. Beautiful Soop, an interesting mix of synthesized sounds and quotes from Lewis Carroll’s poetry and other sources, provides an excellent example of the composer’s fascination and effective experimentation with tape delay techniques and the careful placing of musical information within the stereo space. After more than thirty years, the practice and perfection of the æsthetic principles and concerns first outlined in these pieces continues in the new work of the Deep Listening Band and illustrates Oliveros’ strength as a technically savvy composer who has not lost sight of her creative purpose.

An excerpt of Alien Bog was released on Music from Mills, a recording produced by David Rosenboom in 1986. However, this new CD marks the work’s first full-length presentation as well as the premiere release of Beautiful Soop. Though taken from the original tapes, the recordings are of excellent fidelity with only a few “hisses and clicks” evident in Beautiful Soop. Definitely a necessary item in any scholarly collection of electroacoustic music!

5 February 1998

Selected Electroacoustic Works and Recordings by Pauline Oliveros

Works by Oliveros

Aga (1984), for voice, concertina, whistle conch, trumpet, electronics and digital delay.

Alien Bog (1967), for tape. Pogus Productions [P-21012], 1967.

AOK (1969), for chorus, accordion, violins, conductors, eight country fiddles and tape.

Apple Box Concert (1964), for performers and amplified apple boxes.

Beautiful Soop (1966), for tape. Pogus Productions [P-21012], 1967.

Before the Music Ends (1965), for dancer and tape.

Big Mother is Watching You (1966), for tape.

Bog Road with Bird Call Patch (1970), for tape.

Bye Bye Butterfly (1965), for tape. On New Music for Electronic and Recorded Media, 1750 Arch Records [LP 1765], 1977 and CRI [CD 113], 1997.

The C(s) for Once (1966), for voice, flutes, trumpets and tape delay.

Crone Music (1989), with Paniotis. Lovely Music [LCD 1903], 1990.

The Day I Disconnected the Erase Head and Forgot to Reconnect It (1966), for tape.

Double Basses at Twenty Paces (1968), for two double basses, tape, slides, conductor and referee.

5000 Miles (1965), for tape.

In Memorium Nikola Tesla, Cosmic Engineer (1969), for tape.

Jar Piece (1966). On Electronic Essays, Marathon Music [MS2111], 1968.

Legend (1985), for amplified accordion, chorus and percussion.

Lion’s Tale, Vocal Chords, and A Robert Johnson Sampler (1990), for tape. On CDCM Computer Music Series Vol. 7, Centaur [CRC 2047], 1990.

Listening for Life (1991), for tape.

Live Electronic Piece for Merce Cunningham’s Dance (1969).

Mnemonics III, IV and V (1965), for tape.

Oh Sister Whose Name is Goddess (1984), for voice and digital delay.

I of IV (1966), for tape. On Music of Our Time: New Sounds in Electronic Music, Odyssey [LP 32 16 0160]. There is also I, II, III and V of IV.

Participle Dangling in Honor of Gertrude Stein (1968), for tape, mobile and work crew.

Pauline Oliveros & American Voices — In Memoriam, Mr. Whitney / St. George and the Dragon. Electronically processed accordion and vocal ensemble. On Mode [mode 40], 1994.

Pieces of Eight (1965), for wind octet and tape.

Rock Symphony (1965), for tape.

The Roots of the Moment (1988), for accordion and interactive electronic sound environment. On Pauline Oliveros — The Roots of the Moment, hat ART [CD 6009], 1990.

Sanctuary (1994). On Deep Listening Band — Sanctuary, Mode [mode 46], 1995.

Seven Passages (1963), for dancer, mobile and two-channel tape.

The Seventh Mansion from the Interior Castle (1983), for amplified and processed accordion.

Talking Bottles and Bones (1984), for voice, effects and digital delay.

Theater Piece for Trombone Player (1966), for garden hoses and tape.

Time Perspectives (1961), for tape.

Time Piece (1993), for vocals with electronics. Pauline Oliveros and Fanny Green. On Various — Mini-Mall, Tellus [CD 27], 1993.

Valentine for SAG (1968), for four card players and amplified sound.

The Wanderer (1982), for electronically processed accordions. On Lovely Music [VR 1902], 1984.

The Wandering: A Love Song (1983), for voice and digital delay.

Winter Light (1965), for tape, mobile, figure.

Releases by and with Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros — Accordion and Voice. Lovely Music [VR 1901], 1982.

Pauline Oliveros — The Well and The Gentle. Electronically processed accordion. hat ART [2020], 1985.

Pauline Oliveros / Stuart Dempster / Panaiotis — Deep Listening. Deep Listening Band. New Albion [NA 022 CD], 1989.

Deep Listening Band — Trogolodyte’s Delight. ¿What Next? [CD 0003], 1990.

Deep Listening Band — The Ready-Made Boomerang. New Albion [CD 44]. 1991.

Deep Listening Band — Tosca Salad. Deep Listening [DL 3], 1995.

Pauline Oliveros — Electronic Works: 1965–1966. Companion CD to Alien Bog / Beautiful Soop. Paradigm Discs [PD 04], 2009.

Selected Bibliography

Duckworth, William. Talking Music. New York: Schirmer Books, 1995, pp. 159–178.

Evans, Allen. “Pauline Oliveros: Deep Listening.” Fanfare 15/5 (May-June 1992).

LaPage, Jane Weiner. Women Composers, Conductors and Musicians of the Twentieth Century. Volume 1. Metuchen NJ, USA: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1980–88.

Oliveros, Pauline. “Some Sound Observations.” Source: Music of the Avant-Garde 3 (January 1968), p. 77.

_____. “Tape Delay Techniques for Electronic Music Composition.” Composer (December 1969).

_____. “Sonic Meditations.” Source: Music of the Avant-Garde 10 (1971), p. 103.

_____. Software for People: Collected essays 1962–1981. Baltimore MD: Smith Publications, 1984.

_____. “Acoustic and Virtual Space as a Dynamic Element of Music.” Leonardo Music Journal 5 (December 1995) “An Unheard-Of Organology,” pp. 19–22.

Oliveros, Pauline and Panaiotis. “Expanded Instrument System.” ICMC 1992. Proceedings of the 18th International Computer Music Conference (San Jose CA, USA: San Jose State University, 14–18 October 1992).

Pasler, Jann. “An Interview with Pauline Oliveros.” AWC-News/Forum 9 (Spring/Summer 1991), pp. 8–14.

Taylor, Timothy D. “The Gendered Construction of the Musical Self: The music of Pauline Oliveros.” Musical Quarterly 77/3 (Autumn 1993).

Von Gunden, Heidi. The Music of Pauline Oliveros. Metuchen NJ, USA: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1983.

Elizabeth Hinkle‑Turner in 2022. [Click image to enlarge]


Audio 2 (3:01). Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner — Affirmation (1997) [excerpt].

Elizabeth Hinkle‑Turner received her DMA (1991) in music composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign. She has served as Acting Director of the electronic and computer music studios at Florida International University (Miami) and the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Iowa and has been a faculty member at the University of Illinois, the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of North Texas. She served on the boards of the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, since 2018 in SEAMUS’ new position of Director of Diversity. Currently she is Director of Instructional IT Services at the University of North Texas. Hinkle-Turner authored Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States (Ashgate, 2006) and is working on the second edition of this text and subsequent books in the series. Her CD-ROM work Full Circle received an award from the Institut International de Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges. [March 2022]

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