Founders of Deep Listening: IONE, Pauline Oliveros & Heloise Gold

Deep Listening®, as developed by Pauline Oliveros, explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the conscious nature of listening. The practice includes bodywork, sonic meditations, and interactive performance, as well as listening to the sounds of daily life, nature, one’s own thoughts, imagination, and dreams. It cultivates a heightened awareness of the sonic environment, both external and internal, and promotes experimentation, improvisation, collaboration, playfulness, and other creative skills vital to personal and community growth.

Inherently collaborative, the first published Deep Listening scores and activities (Sonic Meditations, 1971) were workshopped in the context of a female-identified collective, the fem-ensemble, over a period of many months. From the 1980s onwards, Deep Listening workshops, retreats, and the Deep Listening Certification Program were developed and facilitated in close partnership with playwright IONE (also Oliveors’ life partner) and movement artist Heloise Gold. Today, the philosophy and practice of Deep Listening continues to evolve through a growing international community of listeners.

Michael found Deep Listening when he first met and worked with Pauline in 2007. Through periodic study and retreats he found the merging of his meditation and music practices through Deep Listening. He became certified to teach Deep Listening in 2016 and in 2018 was invited to become one of the facilitators at the Center for Deep Listening.

Deep Listening Scores

Deep Listening Scores (or Sonic Mediation) are “recipes” that embrace the spirit of Deep Listening. These scores are created for musicians and non-musicians who would like to practice the three modalities (listening, moving, dreaming)of Deep Listening by themselves or in groups.

Feel free to practice these Deep Listening Scores by Michael either by yourself or your group. Please include the authorship and copyright of the score in your program.

This score is a guided meditation which can be read for yourself or a group meditating on sound.

  • begin seated upright
  • take three deep centering breaths
  • now breathe normally
  • focus on the sound of your own breathing: Ānāpānasati (mindfulness of breathing).
  • listen to the core sounds from your lungs/diaphragm up through your nose
  • even if some of these sounds are imagined, many of the sounds we accept as concrete are augmented by our own thoughts
  • imagine what your breath would sound like from the perspective of the cells in your body
    • the deep strong wind rushing pass millions of cells and atoms
  • begin to expand your awareness from the head/chest region to your arms and legs.
  • breathe into these areas and imagine your body as a resonate chamber
  • your lungs are like bellows of a giant organic steam engine that powers you through the day
  • take a moment to recognize the miracle of breathing
    • you breathe while you sleep, eat, move, walk, read, watch and listen. it happens on its own
    • appreciate the effortlessness of breathing in this relaxed mode
    • it’s  said that aside from our skin, the lungs are the most exposed part of  our body, in every moment we breathe this shared air and return CO2 to  the planet
    • Breathe in: the gratitude for oxygen
    • Breathe out: the generosity of carbon dioxide
  • in the same way that our body breathes on its own with little direction or help from us, hearing works the same say
  • we can direct the breath, breathe deeper or more shallow, or become “out of breath”
  • we can direct our hearing to transition from hearing to listening
  • listen to the sounds of the room
    • the subtle sounds of everyone breathing
    • the heating/air systems
    • the sounds of the room settling
    • outside sounds echoing in this space
  • now that mindfulness of breathing has enlivened your body begin to listen to the room through various parts of your body
    • while our ears are the traditional portal of hearing/listening; sound waves permeate our entire body
    • when you “hear” booming bass in a night club, you are hearing mostly with your chest. you’re “feeling” sound
    • listen/feel  your heart beating, again it’s OK to augment the actual sound with a  little imagination of what you know a heart beat to sound like
    • listen to the sounds of the room with your heart and with your limbs
    • listen  to the sounds of the room through your feet and your butt where you  have a grounded connection to your chair or to the floor. are there  subtle vibrations?
    • notice the subtle shift and fluidity of hearing and feeling vibrations
  • now focus your attention to the sounds outside.
  • what’s the furthest sound you can hear?
  • what’s the closest sound outside you can hear?
  • can  you hear hear the sound as simply vibrations and not attach a name or  identity to that sound like “car”, “people”, “wind” or “rain”?
  • feel your sense of listening awareness grow larger and larger. can you hear the entire block, the entire section of the city, can you hear for miles?
  • when  we’re outside of an urban environment, sound waves can travel for  miles. imperceptible sound waves from millions of light years away are  permeating our bodies right now.
  • shift your awareness from “the  sound waves are coming to me” to “my awareness is expanding to the  source of these distant sounds”. know that there is no real separation  between the subject, object and experience of awareness.

© 2016 Michael Reiley

This score is a guided meditation which can be read for yourself or a group meditating on sound.

  • Stand, sit or lie quietly, listening to the whole body. The feelings, currents and textures of the you of now. How is the breath? How are the subtle shifts of energy in the body?
  • For this meditation we will be working with the feeling of lovingkindness. Can you remember the last time you felt really deep, gentle and profound lovingkindness to someone or something? What did it feel like in your heart? Was it warm, soft, nourishing?
  • Continuing to feel the body and its interconnected systems of liquids, matter and energy. See if you can send lovingkindness to yourself and the system of the body, internal and external that make up the you of now. Express this lovingkindness towards yourself with a movement, gesture and/or sound. Animate the feeling of lovingkindness for the ephemeral, every-changing you of now.
  • Bring your attention outside of the body to the sounds and energies of the room you are in. Send your lovingkindness  to the people, machinery, animals and other natural sounds that make up your soundscape. To the sounds and the originators of these sounds, feel the connection and intimacy being in one vibrational field to expand, sending lovingkindness through gesture and/or sound.
  • Grow your sense of awareness and express your movement/gesture of lovingkindness and gratitude to any living connections (biophony / geophony / anthropony) and inanimate life connections (planes, traffic, construction, electronics, recorded music) audible in your field of listening.
  • Imagine this bubble of listening, and lovingkindness awareness expanding to all beings on the planet.
  • Expand it through time to the people, animals and civilizations that are no longer here anymore. To the ancient ones, our guides and support. Feel the connection through memories, stories and the residual echos of their existence. Let the warm blanket of loving kindness spread over the whole of spacetime. And remember you are an intimate, integral part of all.
  • Allow your full-body listening to expand beyond to the dream and spirit world. Send lovingkindness to any beings that inhabit our  shared dream worlds.
  • As we close, slowly come back to your body, the source of your awareness, the source of your experience and the source of lovingkindness that you can share with the world.
© 2016 Michael Reiley


When an acoustic musical instrument produces sound, the loudness and spectral content of the sound change over time in ways that vary from instrument to instrument. The “attack” and “decay” of a sound have a great effect on the instrument’s sonic character.Sound synthesis techniques often employ an envelope generator that controls a sound’s parameters at any point in its duration. Most often this is an (ADSR) envelope, which may be applied to overall amplitude control, filter frequency, etc. The envelope may be a discrete circuit or module, or implemented in software. The contour of an ADSR envelope is specified using four parameters:
  • Attack time is the time taken for initial run-up of level from nil to peak, beginning when the key is first pressed.
  • Decay time is the time taken for the subsequent run down from the attack level to the designated sustain level.
  • Sustain level is the level during the main sequence of the sound’s duration, until the key is released.
  • Release time is the time taken for the level to decay from the sustain level to zero after the key is released.


  • a group of musicians and non-musicians makes sound in a space, responding with movement and sound to each other
  • sounds can be made with mouth or body parts, no instruments should be used
  • as each discrete sound happens the movement should respond to one of the four temporal parts of the sound
    • Attack (the initial onset of the sound and how it broke the air of silence)
    • Decay (the part of the sound that happens between its initial onset and its sustained presence, i.e. accepting the sound)
    • Sustain (the meat or essence of sound. Notice the relationship between time and how long the sound happens)
    • Release (the dissolving of the sound back into silence. Notice the relationship between the sound and its transition into silence).
  • Find the balance Between the memory of the sound, your awareness of silence, and the anticipation of a new sound.

© 2016 Michael Reiley

Adapted from a movement score by Susan Sgorbati

An improvised score for voice or movement.

Each person will have a role as a Leader, Responder or Echoer. The conductor will choose a Leader by typing a name in the Zoom chat window. The Leader initiates sound and movement using anything as an inspiration. The Responders are those people on the same horizontal row as the Leader in Zoom. Their job is directly respond, echo and augment the the actions of the Leader. The rest of the people are Framers, they should make sense of the relationship between the Leaders and Responders by framing their actions (think background characters in a play or film) with supporting sound and movement.

Every minute or so the conductor will type a new name in the Zoom chat window and that person is the new Leader, with the other people on his or her row as the Responders and the rest as Framers.

Somethings to keep in mind.

We are interacting with each other through the mediated virtual space of digital representation. We are taking in a limited stream of bits of information as sounds and images and extrapolating that as living 3D people. When you improvise with someone in the room you have lots of non-verbal cues, body languages, energy, resonance of the room or space. Over Zoom we loose that. So be mindful of silence and listening to the whole digital field of each others sounds. Listen in and through the computer to each other. Even if a sound can seem quiet on your end in your room, it might come across as loud and harsh. Try to be as digitally empathic as possible. Sometimes when improvising with each other digitalyl, less is more. It’s OK to take space and silence to take in the sounds before adding anything.

© 2017,2020 Michael Reiley

  • Stand in a circle
  • Keep your feet about hips width apart
  • Soften your knees and allow a slight bounce from your knees and hips, grounding through the feet
  • Imagine you have roots coming from your feet keeping you rooted to the ground
  • From the waste up feel a fludity in the upper body through the chest, shoulders, neck and head
  • Bringing our attention to the feet, imagine a sound coming up from the earth and coming through your feet and through the body
  • Make this sound of energy low and deep running up through the earth, through your body and through the top of the head
  • Change the pitch of energy from your lowest pitch as the energy moves up through the earth, through your feet, legs, chest and comes out of the top of your head shooting out into the sky and outer space
  • Repeat several times, playing with the speed and intensity of the sound sliding up from lowest pitch to highest
  • You can use your arms to direct the sound up and through your body and allow your  body to move with the sound, keeping your feet grounded
  • Now do the reverse, allow energy to come from the sky above sliding down from the top of your head down the central body and through the legs and feet going back to the ground
  • Sound this movement with your highest note sliding down through the body back into the earth
  • Repeat several times, playing with the speed and intensity of the energy sound sliding down from the highest pitch to the lowest pitch sliding down your body
  • Allow your body to move with the flow of energy sound.
  • End by thanking the sky for his sound, and thanking the earth for your sound

© 2019 Michael Reiley

In a Zoom Meeting, put the participants in gallery mode so as many are visible on the screen at once.

Turn your camera on, and mute your microphone.

Start with your eyes closed, in silence. Develop a sense of deep gratitude for the you of now. Slowly start to open your eye allowing light to come into your field of vision slowly like a sun rise. As your eyes open slowly look into your Zoom Meeting. Allow the energy of the other Portal of Light (people) to come into you vision. See the faces, shapes, colors and textures of everyone in the Zoom Room one at a time. Send them gratitude for being here today. Notice the buttons, text and interface of Zoom. Send gratitude to the platform of Zoom for hosting us and allowing our Portals of Light to connect. The meditation closes with a bell or sound from the leader.

© 2020 Michael Reiley

For a group on Zoom. First all participants should enable “Hide non-video participants” (Settings/Preferences > Video). When your video is on, you should be muted. When your video is off, you can unmute. When your video is off, you will not be seen.

Explore the co-creation of a shared Zoom dream.

While muted with video on, experiment with adding virtual backgrounds, green screen effects, video filters, studio effects, moving and flowing as dream characters, scenes, and landscapes in our spontaneously arising dream.

If you see dreamspaces happening on other people’s screens that you want to score (like an imaginary film score), you may turn off your video, unmute and sonify that scene or scenes with your voice or instrument.

The score ends when there’s no more dream screens to see or sound.

© 2021 Michael Reiley

Published in A Year of Deep Listening: 365 Text Scores for Pauline Oliveros

There is a natural tendency, especially in children, to see imaginary creatures, faces and objects in nebulous shapes like clouds.

This score invites you to close your eyes and with your most imaginal inner child to hear and listen to the sounds in your environment.

As you listen and imagine, begin to co-create a score for this imaginary fairy tale using the orchestral instruments of your body and voice alone or in a group. Co-create with the imaginary creatures in your sound world.


“When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud is continued in other forms like rain or snow or ice. So you can recognize your cloud in her new forms.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh


© 2023 Michael Reiley

The Mandarin character “to listen” 聽 contains the elements of other characters for ears, eyes, heart, mind, and attention.

This score invites you to listen and sound from these energy centers in the Mandarin character “to listenin” in our bodies.

A conductor rings a bell every three minutes. Read the instructions as you perform the score in three three-minute sections. The whole score should take about 15 minutes.

  • Start by taking a wide stance with the legs about hip-width apart.
  • Take three centering breaths from the top of your head to your feet.
  • Ring the bell to begin.
  • Eyes
    • Close your eyes and place your hands gently over your eyes.
    • Gently rub your eyes with your hands.
    • Remove your hands and allow the energy of sound to come into your eyes.
    • Open your eyes and listen to the lights and sounds around you, moving your body around to receive these sounds through the eyes.
    • Inhale and on the exhale sound what you see to the group.
    • The group receives the sounds in their eyes.
    • [ring bell once after 3′]
  • Ears
    • Gently rub your ears with your hands
    • Remove your hands and allow the energy of sound to come into your ears.
    • Allow sounds to come to your ears, moving your upper body around to receive sounds in all directions
    • Inhale and on the exhale sound what you hear to the group.
    • The group receives the sounds in their ears.
    • [ring bell once 3′]
  • Heart
    • Gently rub your heart center with your hands
    • Remove your hands and allow the energy of sound to come into your heart.
    • Allow sounds to come to your heart, moving your upper body around to receive sounds in all directions
    • Inhale and on the exhale sound what your feel to the group.
    • The group receives the sounds in their hearts.
  • [ring bell once 3′]
  • Mind
    • Gently rub your skull with your hands
    • Remove your hands and allow the energy of sound to come into your mind.
    • Close your eyes
    • Allow imagined and remembered sounds to come to your mind, moving your upper body around to receive sounds in all directions
    • Inhale and on the exhale sound what you remember and imagine to the group.
    • The group receives the sounds in their minds.
  • [ring bell once 3′]
  • Attention
    • Bring your attention to one sound
  • [ring bell three times after 3′]

© 2024 Michael Reiley

Experience Deep Listening

Book a workshop or class with Michael to experience the depth of Deep Listening in person or online.