Tomie Hahn Appointed Director of New Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer

Ethnomusicologist To Guide Center Based in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

July 11, 2014


Troy, N.Y. – Arts professor Tomie Hahn has been appointed director of the new Center for Deep Listening based in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Hahn will steer the new center as it assumes leadership of the Deep Listening Institute, an organization dedicated to the study and practice of Deep Listening that was founded by Rensselaer professor Pauline Oliveros in 1985.

Deep Listening is a creative, contemplative practice used by artists, educators, performers, and others to support improvisation and achieve heightened awareness of their surroundings, in particular the sounds surrounding them. Oliveros describes Deep Listening as “listening with your whole body.”

“Deep Listening as a practice, as a heightening of awareness, can connect the varying disciplines within the humanities,” Hahn said. The center will also serve as an entrée to Deep Listening for students in disciplines outside of the humanities. “Students who have already taken Pauline’s courses in Deep Listening have already discovered that the practice offers a different perspective and can unlock new ways of approaching problem-solving in fields like science and engineering,” Hahn said. “With the establishment of the Center for Deep Listening, we hope to make this ‘ear-opening’ experience available to more Rensselaer students.”

The mission of the new center is to educate people within and outside the Rensselaer community about the practice of Deep Listening and the ways it can be harnessed to enhance creativity and understanding. The center also will focus on research to explore the immense potential of Deep Listening.

“Under the guidance of Tomie Hahn, and in partnership with the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture, the Center for Deep Listening will establish and expand education and research programs that support Deep Listening and bring Pauline Oliveros’ groundbreaking work to new audiences,” said HASS Dean Mary Simoni. “As stewards of Pauline Oliveros’ unparalleled body of work, Tomie Hahn and I are committed to ensuring that the theory, practice, education, and research of Deep Listening flourish at Rensselaer.”

The center will host workshops and conferences, facilitate research, and establish Deep Listening-related courses in addition to the courses Oliveros currently teaches. A conference exploring the artistic and scientific applications of Deep Listening is being hosted at Rensselaer July 11-13.

Hahn, an associate professor of performance ethnology in the Department of the Arts, has worked at Rensselaer since 2002. She is a performer and ethnomusicologist whose work focuses on the embodiment of cultural knowledge through music and dance. Her research dovetails with the mission of the Center for Deep Listening. “As an ethnomusicologist, I study music within its cultural context and that requires broadening and heightening your awareness of the sounds around you, which is perfectly in line with the theories of Deep Listening,” Hahn said.

The Center for Deep Listening was established in June 2014 to steward the continued development of artistic expression, humanitarian scholarship, and understanding of human perception and cognition begun by Oliveros with her innovative Deep Listening practice decades ago. Oliveros, who has taught a course in Deep Listening at Rensselaer since 2001, describes Deep Listening as a form of meditation that opens an expanded world of sound that helps students with learning in all disciplines. 

Written By Emily Donohue
Press Contact Emily Donohue
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