Love Letter to Pauline Oliveros

An image of composer and musician Pauline Oliveros performing. The orientation of the image is skewed, so the floor is slanted and angles down to the right. Oliveros sits on a chair with a large accordion, her head is tilted down, her eyes are closed, and she has an expression of deep concentration. Oliveros sits in a large gallery room, and behind her there is a giant white ear on the wall with a huge, brass ear horn.
Pauline Oliveros. Photo by IONE.

I have more time for dreaming because I stay asleep more. One time—I can’t remember when, because days and hours and weeks and moments now all melt into each other—I dreamt I met a storyteller while walking along a jungle path. We sat under a tree. She took off her head and shook it. Her skull rattled and made music. Seeds, which made those musical sounds, started to pour out of her eyes, mouth, and ears. She put her head back on and told me each seed was a story.  I think about skulls and sonority, how women sing, how I like to sing when telling a story; I do a lot of difficult things that knock me out of my center and listening puts me right back to the groove. Lately, I’ve been listening to Pauline Oliveros and have made a playlist for this love letter. In “Horse Sings from Cloud” from the album Accordion and Voice, Oliveros’s long-drawn tones expand and compress from the instrument’s bellows. In “Wolf” from Ghost Dance, come ululations, chants, and vocalizations of animal sounds that remind me of the Wild Woman from Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s Women Who Run With the Wolves. “Slipping Away” from The Roots of the Moment offers turns and shifts in keys, evoking the image of a winding road in my mind. Time became a little feral these past few months. Music, which is noise ordered by time, provides grounding kinship.