Experimental Pioneer Pauline Oliveros Has Died at the Age of 84

The American accordionist and composer influenced generations of artists with her "Deep Listening" philosophy and writings.

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Nov 26 2016, 1:10am

Photo by Kate Killet

American composer, accordionist, and experimental pioneer Pauline Oliveros has died at the age of 84. The news was reported by flutist Claire Chase on Instagram and confirmed by friends of the composer on her Facebook page.

Born in 1932, she was one of the founding members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center during the 1960s, which was home to trailblazing composers including Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Morton Subotnick. She developed a unique system of tape loops, delays, and reverbs for live effects processing in 1965 called the Expanded Instrument System, which she continued to update using new technology.

Her writings and "Deep Listening" philosophy, which came out of a 1988 performance in an underground cistern, has had an lasting impact on avant-garde music. Earlier this year, she released Water Above Sky Below Now, a collaborative album with improv poet Ione.

In October 2016, Oliveros spoke to THUMP about her career and the relevance of her work today, saying, "There are many more women now who are showing themselves as composers. I have a little more hope for this generation. They're doing okay, and asking good questions, and they have good interests."