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American Composers A Biographical Dictionary David Ewen G.P. Putnam's Sons New York (c) 1982 by David Ewen 999w

= page 480, 481, 483 (Oliveros) =

Oliveros, Pauline, b. Houston, Tex., May 30, 1932.

...In 1952 she came to San Francisco. There she attended San Francisco State College (1954-57), earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1957 with composition as major. She took a year of post-graduate work before deciding to quit the university because it interfered with composition. For the first time she came into contact with "new" music and the young adventurous musicians who were creating it.

A six-year period of the study of composition privately with Robert Erickson followed. Erickson reinforced her interest in sound quality, encouraged her to improvise her way through composition rather than rationalize, and introduced her to the concept of organic rhythm, that is, rhythm that shifts, expands, contracts, and is not periodic in the metrical sense.

In 1957, she joined several San Francisco avant-garde composers in creating group improvisations "We simply sat down and played together without prior discussion, recorded and listened to the results," she says. "At first we were amazed at the spontaneous organization in the music... We all felt our hearing expanded by the simple process of throwing oneself into spontaneous music making, getting immediate feedback in the form of the recording, and discussion of the process and results."

...As a result of experiments at the Center, Oliveros began producing tape-recorded music, some of which was heard at a concert of improvised music in San Francisco on March 24, 1962, in collaboration with several of her colleagues. Alfred J. Frankenstein in the Chronicle referred to the music heard at this performance as "stimulating sounds too new to be named." He added: "While the musicians are busy, mostly with percussive sounds, and the two others were acting and singing and what not, Ramon Sender was taping the goings-on, and the taped sounds came back often in greatly altered forms, on speakers located at various points in the hall. As a result, the past of this improvisation became a part of its present, and this use of the past as both substance and subject for improvisation in the present seems to me to be a most remarkable idea.

... Oliveros's interests now widened again, this time to include visual, kinetic and dramatic elements in her music as well as electronic sounds. There representative works of this period are Pieces of Eight, a theater piece for wind octet and tape (1965), which contains the seeds of many of her later works; Theater Piece for Trombone Player, for garden hose instruments (constructed by Elizabeth Harris) and tape (1966), written on commission for the trombonist Stuart Dempster; and I of IV, a two-channel purely electronic piece (1966; Oakland, Calif., January 1967), which is a solo studio improvisation in real time.

Pieces of Eight, reported Arthur Bloomfield in the San Francisco Examiner, "unwound amidst a concatenation of alarm clocks, cuckoo clock, cash register, and assorted glissandos, burps and bellows from an ensemble of eight performers who looked rather more plausible than they sounded." As part of the overall whimsy, the oboist entered in a fur-lined parka which he removed, then unpacked his instrument, sounded an eight-second whirling cadenza, and put on his parka again and stalked off. There was a solo for a cash register. A bust of Beethoven was paraded up and down the aisles.

In Theater Piece for Trombone Player, the sonic elements are an arrangement of an improvised vocabulary and mixed on tape in a sequence by the composer, while the soloist has specific instructions for improvising with tape. He is called upon to light and extinguish candles on a dark stage, to scrape the strings of a piano, bark like a dog, and perform on several lengths of garden hose each of which is fitted with a trombone mouthpiece. Through these garden hoses, lawn sprinklers were set into operation, cigarette smoke was exhaled, and sounds were reproduced while the performer whirled one of the hoses overhead.

In I of IV the composer elaborated a strong mental sonic image as she became the medium or channel through which she could observe the emerging improvisation. ... ...Before leaving for San Diego, she ended her fifteen-year stay in San Francisco with a twelve-hour "Tape-a-thon: Electronic Music by Pauline Oliveros," on July 22, 1967, a program of compositions in which she presented most of her electronic music. This represented for her the end of an era.

... PRINCIPAL WORKS: Variations for Sextet, for flute, clarinet, trumpet, horn, cello, and piano (1960); Sound Patterns, for chorus (1961); Trio, for flute, piano, and page turner (1961); Trio, for trumpet, accordion, and string bass (1961); Time Perspectives, for four-channel tape (1961);

Seven passages, for two-channel tape, mobile, and dancer (1963); Five, for trumpet and dancer (1964): Apple Box Orchestra, for ten performers, amplified apple boxes, and small sound sources (1964); Apple Box, for two performers, amplified apple boxes and small sound sources (1964);

Light Piece for David Tudor, for four-channel tape, amplified piano, and prismatic lighting effects (1965); Before the Music Ends, for two-channel tape, amplified piano, and prismatic lighting effects (1965); Pieces of Eight, a theater piece for wind octet and tape (1965); George Washington Slept Here, for amplified violin, film, projections, and tape (1965); A Theater Piece, for fifteen actors, film projection, and tape (1965); Winter Light, for two-channel tape, mobile, and figure (1965); Cat o' Nine Tails, a theater piece for mimes with two-channel tape (1965);

Theater Piece for Trombone Player, for garden hose instruments constructed by Elizabeth Harris and tape (1966); The C(s) for Once, for trumpets, flutes, voices, organ, and tape delay system (1966); I of IV, for Two-channel tape (1966); II for IV, for two-channel tape (1966); Hallo, a theater piece for instruments, tape delay system, amplified piano, mimes, and light projections (1966);

Circuitry, for five percussionists, voltage-controlled light score, and light events (1968); Mills Bog, for two-channel tape (1968);...

Typed by Cheryl Vega 7-31-95


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