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Buffalo Jam, Pauline Oliveros



  1. Fast stepwise motion always present for at least one player. Groups of three to five notes weaving around a centering tone in patterns and permutations. Occasionally more compass or notes. Like a fast moving stream. Rushing, dwindling, but ceaseless. Most always hearing the other players. Sometimes leading, sometimes lagging. Dynamically generally play lightly, smoothly, quietly but intensely. Work for transparency.

  2. Sometimes make hard accents, like rushing water hitting or smacking a rock. Listen for others' accents. Sometimes an accent riff will develop as a group pattern. Play with it. Keep it going. Let it go.

  3. Pedal tones always present. Join them, blend with them. Articulate them as rhythmic riffs, or as dynamic shapes.

  4. Silence unless no one else is playing.

  5. The dynamic level should be soft generally, but with intense dynamic development as players weave in and out of the four given possibilities.

  6. When appropriate, players should be distributed throughout the space. Where possible, players should turn and move slowly, directing their sounds to different parts of the space.

February 15, 1982 

Amtrak to Buffalo, New York

Oliveros, Pauline. Anthology of Text Scores. Edited by Samuel Golter and Lawton Hall. Kingston, NY: Deep Listening Publications, 2013.

I. Buffalo Jam (RUST)

Mode: G A B C C# D E F# G


1 - iron

Make sounds that are hard, metallic, shiny, and strong. Slashing out of silence like a sword. Slicing like a good kitchen knife. Play with clear tone. Listen to the sounds of others. Respond by repeating, imitating, mirroring, riffing, joining, and separating. 


2 - rusting

Gradually, by very subtle changes, transition to the polar opposite of iron sounds: rusty sounds. Continue to listen, join, and separate with other players. 


3 - rust

Find your way into sounds that are disintegrated, grainy, dull, cracked, and weak. Crumbling like the way salt and water gradually eat away at hard metal, turning it into sand. Play with dull tone, pitchless. Continue to listen, and make sounds that separate from other players.

II. Buffalo Jam (GOLD)

Mode: F G A C D E 

Throughout the Jam, follow the cycle of: 

listen—match—listen—differ—listen—match—listen—differ— etc. 

Sing, play, or double-stop, always with transparency of sound that blends with others.


1 - solid

Stable, 10 karat gold sound. Hang on one note or harmony for a long time. Play with pure tone. Form harmonies and linger with them warmly. Speak all changes clearly. Notice the vertical range of the whole ensemble, and allow plenty of space between every pitch in the ensemble, stratifying all four voices apart into distinct registers. Allow space for silence. Use your voice too.


2 - under fire

Allow the change of bow to move more quickly, repeating some notes many times. Make hot sounds that dance, bounce, bend, and vibrate like impurities burning out of alloyed metal. Add rhythmic accents and play off of each other. Agree on harmonies together, let them shimmer, then form new ones. Work up to a climax point of maximum heat and movement. Don’t forget to use your voice.


3 - pure

Cool off into solid long tones, like before. Close in on a higher register as an ensemble and occupy less vertical pitch space. Gradually phase in pitches of a new set: G A B C# D E F#. Find your way into sounds that are even purer, finer, softer, more fragile, more tender, and more precious than before, like gold that has achieved 24 karat status. End with only voices.

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