Deep Listening: Geoff Bright and Otto Wilburg

Geoff Bright and Otto Willberg’s session drew on Pauline Oliveros’ notion of deep listening. Oliveros work highlights the selective nature of listening versus the involuntary nature of hearing everything. Thus Oliveros urged “listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what one is doing”.

“From this point on, every sound we hear is equal to every other sound as part of a whole space/sound continuum. There are no ‘waste’ sounds, and we move from selective aural attention to hearing the ‘sounds of the world’ in the Buddhist sense on which Oliveros draws. Geoff Bright

In order to attend to processes of listening, and how these process can change and develop depending on our bodies and what we choose to attune to, Geoff and Otto led us in a series of deep listening exercises. These including visualising others in the room as sounds, making collaborative sounds using our breath and then our vocal chords, and walking around the building, listening so intently that “the bottom of our feet become ears”. At the end of the session, Otto and Geoff introduced their bass and saxophone to the collaborative sounds the group was making with our vocal chords, improvising sound together.

In this session, we noticed how the quality of and experience of listening changed and was shaped, both by changing spatialities around and outside the Brooks building and by the sounds available, but also by the ways in which we attuned to sound. Suspended in the sound, in the collective vibrations of vocal chords and musical instruments, during the final sound piece of the session, we appreciated the way in which sounds we make are the result of our body being subject to some sort of force. This materiality of sound has deep implications for many aspects of educational research and teaching, including participant voice, method, (non)representation and ontology.

Catch Pauline’s Guardian obituary at

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