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For nearly 50 years, research professor of music Pauline Oliveros has been meshing technology with the acoustics of instruments and space to connect her music to the meditative rhythms of her surroundings.
Inspired by the sounds of nature, 70-year-old Oliveros is considered by many to be the godmother of ambient, or meditative, music. Her world-renowned music is based on improvisation and layers of overlapping sounds that can take on the imitation of cataclysmic earth tremors or gentle rain falling on leaves.
Oliveros premiered her latest piece, Sound Geometries, this spring. The piece was written for a 13-member orchestra, the Musiques Nouvelles, which performed in the Ars Musica Festival, one of the best-known contemporary music festivals in Europe.
The performance combined the sounds of the ensemble with Oliveros Expanded Instrument System. As the musicians performed, microphones delivered the music to a computer, which modified and distributed the notes in auditory geometric patterns through an eight-channel sound system.
Oliveros conceived the EIS in the 1960s to help her control sound transformations using foot pedals when she played her accordion. The EIS evolved from simple tape delays to an elaborate digital signal processing system that can, for instance, alter acoustical sounds apparent distance from the audience. For example, the system can make the sounds appear to be in an echo-filled space, and the notes can be sped up or delayed.
Oliveros, whose music philosophy is based on the principles of improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching, and meditation, founded the Deep Listening band in the 1970s. She established the Pauline Oliveros Foundation in 1985 to support the creation of new works in the arts.
|Rensselaer Magazine: June 2003|
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