Academic journal article Women & Music

Anthology of Text Scores

Academic journal article Women & Music

Anthology of Text Scores

Article excerpt

Anthology of Text Scores. By Pauline Oliveros. Edited by Samuel Goiter and Lawton Hall. Kingston NY: Deep Listening Publications, 2013. 218 pp.

On the morning of September 11, 2002, I found myself participating in a performance of Pauline Oliveros's The Wheel of Life (1979). The emotional wounds were still strong for most New Yorkers on this first anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center. As the bells rang at the time each plane crashed into the towers, my friends and I lay on our backs in a circle, heads facing inward, and listened. The listening led to synchronized breathing, the breathing to sounding, but we always came back to listening. Through this composition we were able to observe and share this moment of sorrow and remembrance while expressing our feelings communally.

The Wheel of Life is one of over one hundred compositions from the 1970s to the 2000s collected in Pauline Oliveros's Anthology of Text Scores, published by Deep Listening Publications. The common thread throughout is that it all begins with listening. This applies not only to a work like The Wheel of Life, which belongs to Oliveros's discipline known as Sonic Meditation, but also to those pieces composed expressly for concert performance or with specific musicians in mind, like Thirteen Changes (1986) for the experimental violinist/composer Malcolm Goldstein and Sound Fishes for an Orchestra of Any Instruments (1992). (1)

The ever-present reminder to listen in Oliveros's work is not surprising to anyone familiar with her development of the practice known as Deep Listening. Similarly important but perhaps not as readily apparent is how the circle has been a central organizing image throughout her career. I had been aware of the presence of circles in Oliveros's work since studying the score to The Wheel of Time for String Quartet and Digital Synthesizer (1984), based on the Tibetan Buddhist Kalachakra, or reading The Grand Buddha Marching Band (1981), with its spiral mandala for a score. …

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