Sound Fishes (1992)
by Pauline Oliveros
Listening is the basis. Listening for what has not yet sounded —
like a fisherman waiting for a nibble or a bite.
Pull the sound out of the air like a fisherman catching a fish,
sensing its size and energy —
when you hear the sound play it.
Move to another location if there are no nibbles or bites.
There are sounds in the air like fishes in the water.
When the water is clear you might see the fish.
When the air is clear you might hear the sounds.
— Pauline Oliveros
Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian, is an important pioneer in
American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound — forging new ground for herself and others. Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation she has created a body of work with such breadth of vision that it profoundly effects those who experience it and eludes many who try to write about it.
Oliveros has been honored with awards, grants and concerts internationally. Whether
performing at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in an underground
cavern, or in the studios of West German Radio, Oliveros’ commitment to interaction
with the moment is unchanged. She can make the sound of a sweeping siren into
another instrument of the ensemble. Through Deep Listening Pieces and earlier Sonic
Meditations Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating all environmental
sounds into musical performance. To make a pleasurable experience of this requires
focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills, which
are the hallmarks of Oliveros’ form. In performance Oliveros uses an accordion which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation in addition to electronics to alter the sound of the accordion and to explore the individual characteristics of each room.
Pauline Oliveros has built a loyal following through her concerts, recordings, publications and musical compositions that she has written for soloists and ensembles in music, dance, theater and interarts companies. She has also provided leadership within the music community, from her early years as the first Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (formerly the Tape Music Center at Mills), as director of the
Center for Music Experiment during her 14 year tenure as professor of music at the University of California at San Diego, to acting in an advisory capacity for organizations such as The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council for the Arts, and many private foundations. Oliveros has been vocal about representingthe needs of individual artists, about the need for diversity and experimentation in the arts, and promoting cooperation and good will among people.
Sound Fishes appears on Zeitgeist’s album If Tigers Were Clouds (innova recordings, 2003)