Blog

You Have What You Need; It's All Right There In Front of You

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) was an American composer whose holistic approach to making music involved listening, noticing, improvising and responding to what she described as "the beautiful canopies of sound" that make up our environment.

As Claire-Louise Bennet described the music in a New York Times article dated 2/9/17, Oliveros' sequences of sounds and shifting tones seem to deliver the incremental comprehension of an ancient secret.  It's as if she's drawing out sounds that always existed but remained untapped and silent for millennia.

Oliveros' body of work reflects her philosophy of "two sorts of listening: focal attention and global attention.  The first is when I attend to a specific local sound; the latter is when I take in all the sounds around me and those inside of me, including sounds I remember as well as ones I imagine."  In all of her work one can recognize both a commitment to promoting cooperation and goodwill, and the importance of interacting with the moment.  You can check out her music through the Deep Listening Institute, or on YouTube.

Lst week Barry and I went to NYC.  Stepping off the train we were immediately immersed in a clamor of city sounds.  It seemed like an assault, but as we integrated ourselves we became attuned to the pulse and rhythms of city life, including the myriad sounds which are part and parcel of so many people living together in close proximity.

It's harmony.

Disparate sounds forming layers upon layers, a tapestry woven from many strands.  Not unlike the unique personalities of each individual team member on a project, coming together to create a successful outcome.  Sure you may not feel like coming together -- there may be clashing personalities, opposing viewpoints as well as varied work styles. The key is to draw out what already exists.  Interact with the moment to create a response as multi-tiered as a city soundscape.  Broaden your level of tolerance.  Agree on a shared purpose, and then be ready to listen, notice, improvise and respond to any given situation.

If you are receptive and open, the cacophony has a positive effect.  Much more pleasant than a lone car jarring the stillness, the hum of city street noise soothes like a lullaby.  Likewise, teamwork involving very different personalities has tremendous potential.  Tease it out, like the soundscapes of Oliveros.  

You have what you need; it's all right there in front of you.