American accordionist Pauline Oliveros brings ‘deep listening’ to Korea

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 17, 2014 - 20:21
  • Updated : Mar 17, 2014 - 20:21
American musician Pauline Oliveros first picked up the accordion when she was only 9 years old. Now, more than 70 years later, she still hasn’t put it down.

Oliveros’ love of the accordion had not transcended into her love of music, but her curiosity of sound and how people hear and process noise. When she was 16, she discovered her inner hearing abilities as a musician and decided to become a composer. This became the launching point for her new love affair with listening.

“It became clear to me that listening had more dimension than what was being taught in music schools,” Oliveros explained during an interview with The Korea Herald at the Anyang Pavilion in Gyeonggi-do on Friday. “Listening, as I understand, is very mysterious because we hear, we can identify sounds and agree upon sounds but we don’t know how a person listens to sounds, we don’t know how a person actually perceives music, for example.” 
American accordion player Pauline Oliveros (right) and Deep Listening Institute artistic director Ione pose during an interview with The Korea Herald at Anyang Pavilion, Gyeonggi Province, Friday. (Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)

The 81-year-old traveled to Korea from the States to conduct a special workshop for 28 local participants who wished to learn her methods for “deep listening” and “sonic awareness” through various listening meditation exercises.

“To investigate forms of listening and how people are listening and discussing it and describing their listening together is an important activity,” she said.

Oliveros is the founder of The Deep Listening Institute, which is a non-profit art organization based in New York dedicated to exploring all forms and concepts behind the art and science of listening. The long-time musician finds that through deep listening exercises, musicians can become better and more refined players as they are made more aware of the sound that surrounds them. However, she also claims that her workshops are not just for musicians, but are “for anyone and everyone” who wishes to take the basics of listening to a whole new level of heightened awareness.

Ione, who is Oliveros’ partner and the artistic director of the Deep Listening Institute, has also developed her own theories of deeper listening within dreams.

“Most people connect to dreams through the visual element, but there is sound in dreams and many people are not aware of that,” Ione explained. “So I’m bringing additional awareness to the fact that we have sound in our dreams and that we can listen to it; this awareness allows us to have this concept of 24-hour listening.”

The Deep Listening and Anyang Residency workshop was conducted as part of the Anyang Foundation for Culture & Arts’ fourth annual Anyang Public Art Project.

By Julie Jackson (