“Listen to everything all the time and remind yourself when you are not listening,”

Pauline Oliveros was a virtuosic accordionist, improviser, acoustic composer, and a pioneer of electronic music. Over time, she developed a broad method for attending to sound called Deep Listening. Read the short Introduction to Deep Listening (pdf) and watch the video above (ignore the “keep it simple” TEDx tag, as Pauline surely would as well.)

For another take on what it means to listen and hear, read “hearing essay” by Evelyn Glennie. (pdf – 1 page).

Comment on the readings at the bottom of the page.






  1. This week’s project is pretty simple — bring a material or object to class that will become the basis for your contact mic instrument. Take some time and think about it. What kind of instrument do you want to make? will it have strings, tines, membranes, textures? is it a complete performance system or is it meant to be performed with other instruments? If you end up changing your mind after class, that is ok! If you are interested in attaching strings, tines, or springs, I recommend a wooden base.
  2. Send a song or track that you love and/or have been listening to a lot recently. If you can’t find it online, send me the track name and artist and I’ll try to dig it up. It doesn’t need to be experimental or arty or whatever. Use the email subject “summer jams





If you are feeling stuck, listen to a few pieces/people that use contact microphones. Some of the pieces are recorded using regular microphones, but they could work with contact mics.

As you watch, think about all the different sonic possibilities there are beyond what we might think of as music. Or, to see it the other way, think about how endless the field of music might be if we practiced Deep Listening, or even expanded listening.




















click for video





Contact Microphones


contact microphone

A contact mic is a small flat piezo disk/element that translates physical vibrations in objects into voltage. The piezo discs are a thin brass disk with a layer of crystal in the center. When there is a vibration, the disc bends slightly which generates a (small) electrical signal.

Additional Resources



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FNDT 160 | Spring 2019