Mountain Air (Arctic Air)

By Pauline Oliveros


I have always been fascinated with the phenomena of hearing just inside the ear and just outside the ear. I am also fascinated with the different qualities of air and how it affects hearing. Thin air, thick air, Arctic air, tropical air — all are different. Sounds are different when the air and ear is different. The focus of attention in Arctic Air is to remain on air and ear throughout the performance. The musicians are interpreting the following options selectively: Play what is just inside your ear. Play what is just outside your ear. Play the air. Play a melody. Play a rhythm (non-pitched). All the options are performed at an extremely soft dynamic. This requires very concentrated listening and musical bravery.

The text The Earthworm Also Sings was written in 1992 for the Glenn Gould Conference on Music and Technology, which took place in Toronto. The pace of the text determines the length of the piece and influences what is heard by the audience and the players. The audience may actively participate by listening with the players and journeying with the text.

Depending on the geographical location the piece takes on different titles. The first performance in 1992 was done by the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra in Alaska and was titled Arctic Air. Subsequent performances were titled Desert Air (Las Vegas, NM), Ohio Air (Bowling Green), Tropical Air (Miami), and Canadian Air (Ottawa). — P.O.

Arctic Air is Copyright © 2013 Deep Listening Publications Anthology of Text Scores.

Courtesy of The Pauline Oliveros Trust and The Ministry of Maat (ASCAP).