SA7: The Deep Listening Issue
A Deep Listening Mixtape
Pauline Oliveros: Procession/Peregrinacion
Pauline Oliveros/Chris Brown: Gravity Waves
Deep Listening Band: Dream Time
Deep Listening Band & Joe McPhee: 3rd Mvt.
New Circle Five: 54 Years of Mirrors
At a certain point, trying to define Deep Listening using the written word must give way to experiencing the sound of Deep Listening in practice. DL benefits from the fact that its founder is also its most elegant practitioner, and so what better place to start than with the music of Pauline Oliveros. Sound American is pleased to present a small overview of her work from the compositional to the improvisational and from intimate collaborations to large group meetings, all from the last 25 years on her Deep Listening label.
The first piece is "Procession/Peregrinacion" from Pauline's 1998 release, Ghostdance. It touches on many of the key social components of Deep Listening, including multi-disciplinary collaboration (choreographer Paula Josa-Jones) and using naturally occurring sounds as an inspiration (this work is based around Oliveros' recording of a flock of grackles roosting outside her hotel in Chalco, Mexico during her work on Ghostdance). The recording also features Deep Listening Band member David Gamper on djembe and Julie Lyon Rose's voice, as well as Oliveros on accordion. All three use the Expanded Instrument System (EIS) to manipulate their sounds.
"Gravity Waves" is an example of small collaboration and improvisation in Deep Listening. In this case, Pauline performs on accordion, conch, percussion, and EIS alongside her longtime friend and colleague from Mills College, Chris Brown, who performs on piano and SuperCollider signal processing software. Taken from their 2010 recording of improvisations, Music In The Air, "Gravity Waves" stands as an interesting study in focal versus global listening.
The Deep Listening Band is one of Oliveros' longest running and most legendary projects. Featuring trombonist Stuart Dempster, vocalist Panaiotis,and keyboardist David Gamper*, the group has been together in one form or another since they made their seminal recording, Deep Listening, in 1989. This recording featured Oliveros, Dempster, and Panaiotis who would be replaced a year later by Gamper. The Deep Listening Band is a great place to experience Deep Listening in practice. Any record will feature the tenets of DL and much more. Due to the breadth of Oliveros' work, though, we only feature "Dream Time" from their 1995 CD Tosca Salad. It is an excellent example of continuous drone within the Deep Listening concept.
The CD Unquenchable Fire (2003) features the Deep Listening Band in collaboration with American free-jazz legend Joe McPhee's quartet and science fiction author Rachel Pollack reading her own work. "3rd Movement" takes off from Pollack's somewhat dystopian text and becomes a study in Deep Listening as a combination of composition and improvisation and within the context of two different stylistic approaches to improvisation.
Finally, the group New Circle Five is a collaboration of female improvisers, performers and composers across multiple generations and genres. "Fifty-Four Years Of Mirrors" from the 2003 recording Dreaming Wide Awake features Oliveros on accordion, soprano Kristin Nordeval, trombonist Monique Buzzarté (on conch shell here), Rosi Hertlein on violin and voice, and jazz percussionist Susie Ibarra. New Circle Five is a perfect example of Deep Listening as an improvisational/compositional practice that somehow sidesteps the traditions of jazz and contemporary classical music to create a new and singular sound.
For each of the tracks listed above, there is a full length CD that contextualizes it within the broader possibilities of the Deep Listening practice. The purpose of the Sound American mixtape is to provide the reader with a digestible sample of listening that illustrates the points made by essays and interviews elsewhere in the issue. In this case, more than others, the streaming tracks above just begin to scratch the surface. Sound American wishes to thank Deep Listening Publications and Pauline Oliveros for their kind permission to allow the reader to stream tracks from their catalog.
* David Gamper passed away in 2010.