The Well & The Gentle, two of the major works of Pauline Oliveros, are presented here in a first time reissue on double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with extensive liner notes.
If Oliveros had followed a more conventional path she may have, all social obstacles aside, been considered among the major composers of her time. However, Oliveros approached composition in a more egalitarian manner. She wrote music for musicians to interact with or, in the composers words, she wished to create “an inclusive and interdependent and unfolding world of relationships.”
Oliveros’ propensity towards inclusion is part of what makes this work so remarkably distinctive. The Well & The Gentle is carefully crafted, allowing performers to participate in the creation of the work. Players are asked to collaborate, focus, react and make imaginative choices. Only then can the performers “pass through stages of awakening to the possibilities inherent in making music, working together, leading to the essence of what can shape musical impulses and individual freedom simultaneously.”
Unlike most major composers of the era, Oliveros’ work focuses on collaboration and improvisation. For Oliveros, the processes involved in making music are as fundamental as the music itself. Oliveros creates, as Arthur Sabatini put it so eloquently in the liner notes, “A world in which sound and the practices entailed in making music merge; become, at once, source and atmosphere, energy and essence, presence and dynamic.”
Pauline Oliveros was an electronic music pioneer, accordionist, composer and educator who resided in Kingston, New York. Her instrument was tuned in Just Intonation and she often included it in her meditative improvisational music. Her music is not meditative in the sense that it is intended for listening to while meditating, rather each piece is a form of meditation, such as her aptly titled Sonic Meditations.
A central figure in post-war electronic art music, Oliveros is one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center (along with Morton Subotnick, Ramon Sender, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Anthony Martin), which was the resource on the U.S. West coast for electronic music during the 1960s. The Center later moved to Mills College, where she was its first director, and is now called the Center for Contemporary Music. Oliveros often improvised with the Expanded Instrument System, an electronic signal processing system she designed, in her performances and recordings.