Sunday, October 29, 2017

Still Listening: For Pauline Oliveros 

AOM performs Heart of Tones

Still Listening, In Memory of Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016)

June 1, 2017, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Pauline Oliveros' The Heart of Tones
performed by the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse
and vocalists Kathy Kennedy, Viv Corringham and Tina Pearson

Pauline Oliveros became a member of AOM shortly after it formed, and continued to be involved in and a champion of its activities until her passing. Oliveros was instrumental in three significant AOM works: Her own The Heart of Tones; the Stelarc collaboration Rotating Brains / Beating Heart; and Vancouver Calling, her multiple reality-ability work made for performance by AOM in Second Life, the Deep Listening AUMI (Adaptive Use Musical Interface) program and live musicians, performed at the Canadian New Music Forum 2012 in Vancouver. As her avatar Free Noyes, Oliveros also welcomed the New Year annually within Norman Lowrey's environment Overnight For Dreaming Avatars in Second Life as part of her partner Ione’s Annual Dream Festival. Oliveros encouraged her students and colleagues to investigate the potential in such networked platforms as a way to expand their listening and explore new contexts and possibilities for their work. Oliveros' belief in the possibilities of connection, of listening beyond the borders of place, culture, ability , language, skill and genre pushed AOM beyond what it thought possible. Her modelling of community, acceptance, love and her tenacity in trying out challenging ideas have become fierce norms of the group.

The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse dedicated this performance of The Heart of Tones with deep gratitude and appreciation to the memory of Free Noyes and Pauline Oliveros.

The Heart of Tones (mixed reality version)

The Heart of Tones was originally commissioned in 1999 by Abbie Conant and her Wired Goddess Project and composed for trombone and two oscillators. Oliveros created an ensemble version of the piece in 2008, adapted for the mixed realities of Second Life and Real Life, combining virtual instruments with live trombones and voices streamed into Second Life, with the result brought into a venue via projection screens and audio system. The premiere of the mixed realities The Heart of Tones took place at Open Space in Victoria BC.

In The Heart of Tones, a tone is minutely explored in the smallest possible increments within a half tone above and below a prescribed pitch, through subtle timbre variations and spatial movements by performers on virtual and physical instruments. This is accomplished with a custom Heart of Tones (HoT) virtual instrument designed within Second Life, in collaboration with Oliveros and the Avatar Orchestra luthier, Andreas Müller. The instrument includes individual controls for volume, duration, frequency and colour spectrum of 95 microtones within the space of a half tone above and below D4 (296Hz). The instrument also includes avatar animations, and exacting choreography performed by the avatars is designed to provide subtle varations and evolutions in the perception of the received sound. The resultant beats, timbre shifts and audio illusions create rhythms, transformations and textures that are precisely mirrored in visual colour spectrum shifts on activated capes worn by the avatar performers. The focus is on listening to the acoustic beat frequencies and the overtones that result from playing tones together that are very very close together in frequency. The musicians decide independently and intuitively on the variations.


Second Life Avatars
Chris Wittkowsky, Regensburg, Germany (Paco Mariani)
Frieda Kuterna, Antwerp, Belgium (Frieda Korda)
Max D. Well, Regensburg, Germany (Maxxo Klaar)
Leif Inge, Oslo, Norway (Gumnosophistai)
Ole-Xin Foss, Oslo, Norway (Ba Na Na)
Gema FB Martín, Madrid, Spain (FredMadison)
Björn Eriksson, Sollefteå, Sweden (Miulew Takahe)
Norman Lowrey, New Jersey, USA (North Zipper) 
Liz Solo, Toronto, Canada
Cathy Fern Lewis, Victoria, BC, Canada (Fernsing)
Viv Corringham, New York, USA (Zonzo Spyker) i
Brenda Hutchinson, San Francisco, CA, USA (Groucho Parx) 
Tina Pearson, Victoria, BC, Canada (Humming Pera)

Kathy Kennedy
Viv Corringham
Tina Pearson

Timekeeper: Brenda Hutchinson
Conductor: Tina Pearson
Second Life Camera Operator: Kevin Gironnay
Second Life Set Design and Construction: 
Tina Pearson, Norman Lowrey, Frieda Kuterna