pauline oliveros

Four electronic pieces 1959-1966

CD digipack


Noise before breathing
Pauline Oliveros is more than ever an important American composer. Born in Houston, Texas on May 30, 1932, the music she produces today is close to the breath of life, with, notably, her pieces for accordion played by herself, the creation of the Deep Listening Center, her approach to improvisation, and her numerous and varied collaborations with, among others, John Cage, Morton Subotnick, Terry Riley, Sonic Youth, Erold, and Andrew Deutsch...

What we wish to show here, is her early and definitive contribution to the tape and electronic music of the late fifties and sixties - her systematic exploration of electronic sounds, which was fundamental to this period. If Mnemonics prefigures her meditative and breathing pieces, V of IV structures sound as noise, Time Perspectives are her first variations on silence, while Once Again develops a wild energy, that out-strips itself, a frenzy the likes of which is hard to find - whether in its day or ours.

Early electronic works
My work with electronic music began in 1959. My first tape piece was an ambitious four channel work called Time Perspectives. The piece was made by recording small sounds from objects resonated on a wooden wall and changing the tape speed. I used cardboard tubes as filters by inserting the mic into the tube and recording sources through the tubes. I used my bath tub as a reverberation chamber. Sections of the piece were improvised and then subjected to speed changes (the recorder had two fixed speeds 7 and 1/2 IPS, 3 and 3/4 IPS and hand wound variable speed). When the San Francisco Tape Music Center was established together with Ramon Sender and Morton Subotnik there was a pool of equipment to use and I began to work with electronic sound. Rather than cut and splice small pieces of tape together to make a composition I chose to work in real time. I used two tape machines with the tape running across both machines to make a delay system. I used two or more oscillators at high frequencies to produce difference tones. These tones would also interact with the bias frequencies of the tape recorders. I would play the oscillators into the tape recorders improvising my way through the piece. My system of composing in this manner was my own invention. Pauline Oliveros


01 Mnemonics III (1965) 17:29
02 V of IV (1966) 16:28
03 Time Perspectives (1959) 19:37
04 Once again / Buchla piece (1966) 19:21