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In the late 1960s, faced with the devastation of the Vietnam War and a political climate plagued by corruption, the pioneering musician Pauline Oliveros turned her practice inward. Seeking refuge from the chaos around her, she began experimenting with a practice she would later come to call “deep listening.” Influenced by her studies of Tai Chi, bodywork, Kinetic Awareness, improvisation, and drone music, the ardently feminist, queer composer would develop a distinct style of experimental music, attuned to the sounds and movements of our bodies and the natural world around us. Never one for escapism, Oliveros believed intentional introspection could spur more thoughtful action, in times of crisis and more generally.

Oliveros’s “Sonic Meditations” continue to influence a generation of musicians and artists, among them fellow experimentalist John Cage, the MacArthur award-winning flutist Claire Chase, and the celebrated performer and playwright Ione, who among many things was Oliveros’s creative partner and spouse for 30 years. This Saturday (April 18) and next (April 25), Ione, with Chase and fellow musicians Raquel Acevedo Klein, Bridgid Bergin, and Ross Karre, will carry on Oliveros’s legacy by presenting a “World Wide Tuning Meditation” via video call.

A brightly colored illustration inspired by the World-Wide Tuning Meditation, featuring numerous small squares of faces rendered in watercolor

An illustration by Kim Noce, inspired by the March 28, 2020 “World-Wide Tuning Meditation” (image courtesy of Raquel Acevedo Klein)

Requiring no musical experience at all, the meditation invites participants to take part in a “world-wide musical exchange” through a series of synchronized breathing and tonal exercises. The meditation is being presented as part of MUSIC on the REBOUND, “an online, interactive music festival designed to bring people together and support performing artists affected by the COVID-19 crisis,” hosted by the Brooklyn-based International Contemporary Ensemble.

Since its debut on March 28, the “World-Wide Tuning Meditation” has unfolded on screens internationally three times, with its latest iteration welcoming over 900 participants from more than 30 countries, according to lead organizer Raquel Acevedo Klein. One participant, artist and Hyperallergic contributor Anthony Hawley, who took part in an early test run in March, even remarked, “In our new endless Zoom, Google Hangout, FaceTime reality, I can say this was one of the most profound experiences I have had in this format.” Another, Ellen Pall, exclaimed during a session, “This is so beautiful I’m already crying!”

So, if you’re looking for a bit of mindful re-centering amid these frightful times, tune in and join them for a sonic respite.

When: April 18 and April 25, 5pm EST
Where: Online, via Zoom

Visit MUSIC on the REBOUND for more details on how to participate.

Dessane Lopez Cassell is a New York based editor, writer, and film curator, as well as the former reviews editor at Hyperallergic. You can follow her work here.