Pauline Oliveros, Creator of 'Deep Listening,' Dies at 84

Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images
Pauline Oliveros performs at a World Music Institute "Interpretations" concert entitled 'The Music of Pauline Oliveros and Friends' at Merkin Concert Hall in New York on Nov. 14, 1991. 

Pauline Oliveros, the experimental composer, teacher and creator of the process she called “deep listening,” died in her sleep Thursday (Nov. 24). She was 84.

Oliveros’ death was first shared by flutist Claire Chase on Instagram and later confirmed by the Deep Listening Institute to NPR. “No words for this heartbreak / rest softly, you perfect beautiful soul,” Chase captioned a photo of Oliveros on Friday.


no words for this heartbreak / rest softly, you perfect beautiful soul #paulineoliveros (1932-2016)

A photo posted by Claire Chase (@clairechaseflute) on

Know for her experimental approach to music and sound with tape experiments and live performances, Oliveros was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s and went on to found the Deep Listening Institute, which is now called the Center For Deep Listening.

She later coined the term “Deep Listening,” a concept described as “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing," Fader reports. Oliveros’ practice of “Deep Listening” arrived with her 1989 ambient album of the same title, recorded with Stuart Dempster and Panaiotis. The concept encouraged artists to adopt a sense of combining “music, literature, art, meditation, technology, and healing,” according to Spin.    

“I began to notice that I wasn’t hearing everything going on around me,” Oliveros said in the 2002 interview with SF Gate. “There were a lot of subtle sounds and vibrations that I just wasn’t picking up. And so I determined to try to listen to everything all the time, and to remind myself when I wasn’t listening.”

Oliveros was a respected lecturer who taught at the Mills College in California, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and other places. She had reportedly been based in update New York since 1985.

Listen to some of Oliveros’s works below.


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