Interview: Deep Listening - The Story of Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros is to be the subject of a new documentary examining her significant impact on modern music. She is a true thought-leader when it comes to listening mindfully to enjoy music more and spark musical creativity – so it’s no wonder we’ve featured Oliveros’ works and ideas here on EasyEarTraining.com several times in the past, including an article about the difference between hearing and listening and tips on improving your audiation skills (imagining music in your “mind’s ear”).

Now New York filmmaker Daniel Weintraub is producing a full-length documentary about the life and works of Pauline Oliveros, to tell her story and explain the great significance of her contributions to the world of music. Daniel kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions about this exciting project.

Q: Hi, Daniel! Thanks for joining us here on EasyEarTraining.com. Before we dive in, could you tell us a bit about your own background in music and sound?

Daniel WeintraubIn addition to being a filmmaker, I have been a musician and composer for over 25 years. I am also a recording engineer. My studio, Hell’s Kitchen Recording, was in NYC for 7 years, and is now in Upstate New York. My most recent recording project actually involved Pauline. I recorded the Thollem/Cline trio (Thollem McDonas, Nels Cline and Pauline Oliveros). The record should be out in the next couple months.
 

Q: You’re currently working on a documentary about the life and work of modern composer Pauline Oliveros. For someone who’s never come across Pauline Oliveros or her work before, what would you tell them about this film?

That is a tough question to answer briefly (it really requires a feature length film to answer!) Quite simply, Pauline has been at the forefront of contemporary American music and technology since 1960 and remains incredibly prolific to this day.

She has influenced and mentored countless musicians who went on to incredible careers of their own. In addition, through her Deep Listening practices, she has taught thousands of non-musicians how to open their ears fully to the world and each other (a very valuable lesson in this day and age).

Q: We couldn’t agree more about the importance of “opening your ears”! So how did you come to meet Pauline Oliveros and decide to embark on this exciting project?

Shortly after I moved here, a neighbor of mine in the Hudson Valley, upon hearing I was a filmmaker and musician exclaimed

“You should make a film about Pauline Oliveros… I know her”.

I was already a fan of Pauline’s work and ideas, but I did not realize that she was living in my area. I was amazed that no film existed about her and right away I was inspired to try to bring her story, music and ideas to the masses. A little while later I met Pauline, we clicked, and this project was born.

Q: Perhaps her best known contribution to the world of music is the concept of Deep Listening. We’ve covered the question of “What is Deep Listening?” here on the site before but how would you personally explain its significance? 

Most important to note is that Deep Listening is not just for musicians. The exercises that Pauline has developed make the world of Deep Listening accessible to anyone musician or not.

I have seen this phenomenon first hand many times. It opens people up to new levels of creativity and collaboration. In Pauline’s case, she practices Deep Listening all the time, not just when she performs. As she says, the ultimate goal is to “listen to everything all the time.”

The ultimate goal is to “listen to everything all the time.”

For musicians, particularly free improvisers like Pauline, of course Deep Listening is endlessly valuable. Yes, even musicians can always improve the attentiveness and depth of their listening.

Since music (in my opinion) is the ultimate collaborative art form, improving listening is going to improve the creative process.

Q: Wonderful! It’s clear that you are personally very inspired by Pauline’s life work and the task of producing a documentary which does it justice. Is your documentary something that will be of interest to composers only?

Pauline is a unique composer and person. She is adamantly against exclusivity. Thus, it follows that her story would not appeal exclusively to composers.

As a composer, Pauline is actually known for writing pieces that can be performed by musicians or non-musicians. I hope to do the same with this film – have it appeal to a wide variety of people. In addition to those whose interest will be the music, this film should appeal to you if you are interested in American history, technological innovation, humanitarian causes or even the concept of community and creativity as an antidote to the chaotic modern world.

Q: You are currently running a fundraising campaign for completion of your documentary. As explained on your Indigogo page Deep Listening – The Story of Pauline Oliveros the project has been underway for a year already but there is plenty still to do. Could you tell us a bit more about your fundraising campaign?

The response to the fund drive has been amazing: 1,600 Facebook shares, great write-ups from numerous prestigious publications and a strong sense of enthusiasm in general. Pauline’s influence is worldwide with contributions coming from every corner of the globe.

All that said, we have still only raised a quarter of the requested funds. I wish there were another way, but the tremendous amount of work and research necessary to tell the story of such a prolific artist with a career that spans almost 6 decades, will require a decent budget and we are not there yet.

Q: Well, we certainly wish you great success in raising the funds and completing this important project. If someone reading this interview is keen to support this project or just to learn more, where can they go?

The best place to visit is the project page: Deep Listening – The Story of Pauline Oliveros

Fantastic. Thanks again, Daniel, for joining us and sharing this exciting project with our readers.

If this interview has made you curious about Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening be sure to read our previous article on the difference between hearing and listening and then visit the documentary’s Indiegogo page to learn full details of the project and contribute to help ensure its successful completion.

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