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Jamming in the Ether

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Composer Pauline Oliveros
  • Composer Pauline Oliveros

Whether you’re networking on MySpace, looking for love, shopping on eBay, or simply e-mailing a friend, the Internet is our generation’s most miraculous way for people to stay connected. The possibilities at our fingertips seem endless. Pauline Oliveros of the Deep Listening Institute is no stranger to the intangible Internet and is taking full advantage of it by using the free, state-of-the-art Web telephony network called Skype to bring her musical trainees together from different locations around the world.
After receiving a grant from the New York State Music Fund, Oliveros was able to establish an online virtual residency, which began in January. “Skype allows you to call people, computer-to-computer, and do conference calls, 10 people at a time," she says. "The musicians are calling each other up, setting up group appointments and jamming, creating large scale pieces and ensembles.”
Oliveros has been hosting instructional retreats on her Deep Listening musical/philosophical concepts for the past 17 years, recently teaching a three-year certificate program that enables participants to teach Deep Listening workshops themselves. Currently, there are 30 certificate holders in Switzerland, Canada, and the US, and their virtual residency is called the Deep Listening Convergence. The result of the online jams? The musicians will be coming together for three concerts in June here in the Hudson Valley, all rehearsals having been done online.
“[The Internet] is an amazing place. It’s wonderful that you can hear each other, and if you’re doing one-to-one, you can do a video conference, but the audio conferences are for up to 10 people.” She mentions one conference in which people were working on a piece that involved uploading files to the Internet, writing the files, doing several generations of mutation to the files, then dumping them into a “sound pool” to use for improvisation. “The members are jamming on Skype, holding message forums on Basecamp, and posting recorded sessions on Imeem [an online community for promoting music, video, blogs, and more],” she says.
The array of instruments used is vast: trombone, accordion, cello, harp, percussion, colombine/amaranth, recorder, shakuhachi, piano, koto, guitar, vocals, laptop; visual performance is also sometimes added to the activities. Musicians improvise in different combinations, such as two vocalists and two pianists each in a different city in Switzerland jamming with an amaranth player in Canada and a vocalist in Texas. “[The resulting sound is] very mixed,” she says, “as there are different ways that people improvise—free improvisation to guided improvisation. It will be diverse, and there are quite a few vocalists involved and also some local musicians, as well. We’re working with 45 musicians, so there will be some very large ensembles as well as smaller ones, each concert with different configurations of those musicians, each curated by a different member of the group.”
The concert schedule is as follows: June 8 at 8pm at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy; June 9 at 8pm at Time & Space Limited in Hudson; and June 10 at 3pm at The Lifebridge Sanctuary in High Falls. (845) 338-5984; www.deeplistening.org/site/convergence.

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