Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gifted or not, you can still lend your voice to the World-Wide Tuning Meditation

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge World-Wide Tuning Meditation, Saturday, April 25, 3:50 p.m., Your computer or phone, for Zoom meeting link and password, see -
  • World-Wide Tuning Meditation, Saturday, April 25, 3:50 p.m., Your computer or phone, for Zoom meeting link and password, see

Back in 2007, when more than 85 percent of Americans still had operational landlines, Pauline Oliveros was already envisioning a world in which music and technology would help foster a sense of community during a time of extreme social isolation.

“Musicians are leading the way to global development with a conscious way of connecting non-violently,” the electronic music pioneer wrote in From Telephone to High Speed Internet: A Brief History of My Tele-Musical Performances. “As the technology improves exponentially and ubiquitously, then eventually there will be no reason not to perform music at a distance. Globalization gives us more reason. Making music together makes friends.”

Since you’ll probably be at home this coming Saturday afternoon, you can prove Oliveros right by participating in the upcoming World-Wide Tuning Meditation. Regardless of your experience or ability, the Zoom-driven “interactive sound-along” event will give us the opportunity to come together online with participants from around the world in a live performance of Oliveros’ influential “Tuning Meditation” composition.

The work has been performed each Saturday in April as part of the Music on the Rebound festival, an ongoing initiative that’s designed to help support musicians during the current pandemic. The first event drew 600 quarantined participants, all singing single notes into their computers together in real time.

“As a composer, performer and electronic music pioneer, Pauline understood the fundamental ways in which technology could be used to bring people together,” says UCCS music professor Jane Rigler, who is currently in Ireland on a Fulbright scholarship. “In the World-Wide Tuning Meditation, we connect at a distance through the simple act of projecting, on the exhale, a single tone. We send a tone. We receive a tone. There’s no need to judge any tone, each one arrives just as it is, unique and pure-hearted. And by joining in, even if it’s only to listen, our presence is an act of giving.”

Oliveros first recorded her piece “Tuning Mediation” in 1988 under much different circumstances. She and her Deep Listening band traveled to Port Townsend, Washington, where they recorded it in a huge underground cistern with natural reverb that took a full 45 seconds to fade away.
Three years later, Oliveros organized her first livestreaming performance, a six-city improvisation in which she used a video-telephone bridge to connect musicians in Oakland, New York City, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles and Kingston, New York. In the decades leading up to her death in 2016, Oliveros continued to utilize new technologies to push the boundaries of long-distance artistic collaboration.

Along the way, she also created a celebrated legacy as a composer. Oliveros is, and forever shall be, the only artist whose compositions have been performed by both John Cage and Sonic Youth. She collaborated with Morton Subotnick and DJ Spooky. She pioneered ambient electronic techniques that would be adopted by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp a decade later. In 2012, the electronic label Important Records released a 12-CD set of her early recordings, Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970, to commemorate her 80th birthday.

Oliveros also has a Colorado Springs connection. Back in 2013, Rigler and her colleagues in the Peak FreQuency Creative Arts Collective persuaded her to come to UCCS for a series of teaching seminars and performances. Rigler, who is one of the few certified instructors in Oliveros’ “deep listening” practices, is certain that the composer would be delighted with the current use of her philosophy and techniques at a time when our computers have become one of our sole bridges to the outside world.

“We’re also listening to the technology itself, the way that it alters our voices and transforms the ways in which we interact,” says Rigler of the World-Wide Tuning Meditation experience. “As a participant, I’ve found myself wondering how we can use this time — being separated and yet connected — to become more acutely conscious beings.”

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