Sonic Meditations

This final activity is one that isn’t really for the radio play, but a relaxation exercise that I do with my field recorder sometimes that I thought you might like to try.

There was a composer called Pauline Oliveros who lived from 1932-2016 who made beautiful works of music that were about listening to each other and our environments. In 1971 she created a series of ‘instruction scores’ (instructions using words as a way of organising sounds to make music) called Sonic Meditations.

The main point of her Sonic Meditations were to create “a tuning of mind and body” (Oliveros, 1971) and that “music is a welcome by-product of this activity”. (ibid).

My favourite of her meditations is one I sometimes do with my field recorder, it’s called Environmental Dialogue.

Oliveros, 1971

The instructions for Environmental Dialogue are;


Each person finds a place to be, either near to or distant from the others, either indoors or out-of-doors. Begin the meditation by observing your own breathing. As you become aware of sounds from the environment, gradually begin to enforce the pitch of the sound source. Reinforce either vocally, mentally or with an instrument. If you lose touch with the source, wait quietly for another. Reinforce means to strengthen or sustain. If the pitch of the sound source is out of your range, then reinforce it mentally.

Try finding a relaxing spot, putting your headphones and setting your field recorder to record, then do the sonic meditation. Try to listen for at least 5 minutes, but do longer if you’re happy to keep listening.

What sounds do you notice that you never noticed before?

How do you feel afterwards?

Try it again another day and see if it feels different this time. Like anything, it gets easier the more you practice it.

Here’s one Richy did…

%d bloggers like this: