Sonic Meditations

Pauline Oliveros experimented with telepathic transmission and the cognition of sound in works exploring Deep Listening such as Sonic Meditation III from her Sonic Mediations, written in 1973 and published in 1974. She is considered a great figure of American Minimalism and she was also founder of Deep Listening in the tradition of new (age) music and avant-garde spirituality. Oliveros abandoned composition/performance practice to develop a method of group listening that flattened the relationship between composer, performer and audience in the service of consciousness raising, environmental dialogue and sonic meditation. She incorporated immateriality and materiality through a practice of constant listening and sound performance work combined with tai chi, yoga, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism and Taoist practice, aesthetics and research. She also incorporated Fluxus-like text-based guided meditations, and long tones and drones inspired by countercultural interest in Indian music. She also developed retreats for Deep Listening, as well as a three-year certificate course to qualify teachers of the discipline.1 Her sonic meditations exist as usable workshops as well as artworks in-themselves. Sonic Meditation III mediation/instruction flows on from the first two Teach Yourself To Fly meditations and gives two part instructions in telepathy titled ‘Pacific Tell’ and ‘Telepathic Improvisation’. ‘Pacific Tell’ instructs: “Find your place in a darkened indoor space or a deserted out-of-doors area. Mentally form a sound image. Assume that the magnitude of your concentration on, or the vividness of this sound image will cause one or more of group to receive this sound image by telepathic transmission. Visualise the person to whom you are sending. Rest after your attempted telepathic transmission by becoming mentally blank. When or if a sound image different from your own forms in your mind, assume that you are receiving from some one else, then make that sound image become audible. Rest again by becoming mentally blank or return to your own mental sound image. Continue as long as possible or until all others are quiet.”2


  1. Adam Overton, New Music for a New Age, east of borneo,, August 22, 2013, cited 27 December 2016.
  2. Bradford Bailey, Pauline Oliveros’ sonic meditations (1974) the complete text and scores,, September 13, 2016, cited 27 December 2016.