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Deep Listening

Deep Listening is a compositional sound practice as well as a meditation technique pioneered by composer Pauline Oliveros. She wrote a book on the topic entitled “Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice”. She also taught many workshops on the subject all across the world. These have continued after her death.

The idea of Deep Listening is contained in the definition of the title words. To listen is more than to merely hear. It involves conscious perception of the sound and careful consideration of the sound. It may also involve deciding what to do with the sound. Deep describes the endless nature of this process of listening.

For me Deep Listening is a life long practice. The more I listen, the more I learn to listen. - Pauline Oliveros

Deep listening practice, as described in her book, involves intentional and often guided meditations on sound, journaling about the experience of the sound, and composing/performing sound pieces. At workshops these meditations are done in groups.

Written reflection on remembered sound is an important part of the practice as it is such a good way of cementing what you notice and learn.

Practice may also take the form of field recording and composing using only the recorded sound.

Oliveros and others have created a variety of textual scores that are designed to help a person have a Deep Listening experience.

My favorite (so far):

Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears. - Pauline Oliveros, Sonic Meditations


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