Pauline Oliveros (b. 1930) is an accordionist and composer who currently resides in Kingston, New York. Her instrument is tuned in Just Intonation and she often includes it in her meditative improvisational music. Her music is not meditative in the sense that it is intended for listening to while meditating, rather each piece is a form of meditation, such as her aptly titled Sonic Meditations.
A central figure in post-war electronic art music, Oliveros is one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center (along with Morton Subotnick, Ramon Sender, Terry Riley, and Anthony Martin), which was the resource on the U.S. west coast for electronic music during the 1960s. The Center later moved to Mills College, where she was its first director, and is now called the Center for Contemporary Music. Oliveros often improvises with the Expanded Instrument System, an electronic signal processing system she designed, in her performances and recordings.
“Accordion and Voice was the first of my recordings as a soloist. I was living in an A-frame house in a meadow just below Mount Tremper at Zen Mountain Center. I had a wonderful view of the graceful saddle mountain top. When away on a performance trip I would imagine the mountain as I played Rattlesnake Mountain. I followed the feelings and sensations of my many experiences of the mountain - the changing colors of the season, the breezes and winds blowing through the grasses and trees. Horse Sings From Cloud taught me to listen to the depth of a tone and to have patience. Rather than initiating musical impulses of motion, melody and harmony I wanted to hear the subtlety of a tone taking space and time to develop. The tones linger and resonate in the body, mind, instrument and performance space. My thanks to Important Records for bringing these pieces to be heard again.”
- Pauline Oliveros 2007
“A quixotic body of work that seems to hover -- like that of John Cage, to whom she is often compared -- somewhere in the interstices among composition, philosophy, religion and self-help.” -San Francisco Chronicle
"Her solo accordion work "Rattlesnake Mountain" was a simple, haunting melody over a pulsating drone. Few composers can summon such gentle majesty from this instrument." -New York Times
"Oliveros' music makes you listen afresh to the simplest sounds." -New York Times
"A particularly beautiful example of experimentalism --- genuine musical individuality." -New York Times
"On some level, music, sound consciousness and religion are all one, and she would seem to be very close to that level." -New York Times