Pauline Oliveros

Monday 28 November 2016

She made I of IV – one of my favourite pieces, a perfect union of conceptual elegance and wild inventiveness – and then decided there was more important stuff to be done. She kept exploring, from free group improvisations in the fifties, to the essential electronic works of the sixties and then on further into sonic meditations and deep listening, revealing more and more in music about how people can relate themselves to sound, both in hearing it and making it.

That’s a simplistic narrative, and the whole “deep listening” thing is less an endpoint to be venerated than an opening to another five decades of diverse approaches to music-making, informed by a equally wide-ranging conscientiousness of sound. I don’t admire all of it, but now that a little of that awareness has rubbed off on me I can never dismiss it. It ticks away at the back of my mind whenever I’m doing something musical. You don’t wonder if, but just how much, things in music would be different now if she had never been here.