Pauline Oliveros


Pauline Oliveros, a lesbian whose introduction to music was through the lucrative field of accordion performance, became a foundational player in the burgeoning field of electronic music. Like her 20th century art music peers, her composition is rooted in a classical Western tradition, but filtered through instruments like tape recorders that expanded the boundaries of what music could be. Her Deep Listening Band and Deep Listening Institute explored (and are still exploring) music based in the sounds and locations of everyday life. According to Oliveros’s theory of sonic awareness, which she described as “a synthesis of the psychology of consciousness, the physiology of the martial arts, and the sociology of the feminist movement,” music is formed in collaboration with its surrounding environment, and so musicians should become attuned to the sounds around them.

For her contributions to the study of music, Oliveros has been honored with several awards, and as of the time of this writing holds teaching positions with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Mills College. The text of an extensive interview with her is available here.


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