Improvising Across Abilities

Pauline Oliveros and the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument

Subjects: Music, Musicology, Disability Studies, Media Studies, New Media
Open Access : 9780472903689, 404 pages, 27 illustrations, 2 tables, 3 sound files, 24 videos, 6 x 9, January 2024
Hardcover : 9780472075737, 404 pages, 27 illustrations, 2 tables, 3 sound files, 24 videos, 6 x 9, January 2024
Paperback : 9780472055739, 404 pages, 27 illustrations, 2 tables, 3 sound files, 24 videos, 6 x 9, January 2024

Partial funding for this book was provided by IICSI; Research Excellence Initiative, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas; Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, SAM; CURIE, Carleton University's Open Access Fund; & RPI.
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An exploration of the instrument that allows everyone to access artistic practice

Table of contents


Section I: Dreaming of AUMI         

Chapter 1       

Going Deep: AUMI Since Before the Beginning

Leaf Miller

Illustrations by Ty Dykema

Chapter 2       

From Punk Philosophy to Musical Accessibility

Zane Van Dusen

Chapter 3       

My Transformation into a Masterpiece Musical Instrument and Musician

Clara Tomaz

Chapter 4       

The Gift of Expression: Playing AUMI with My Son

Julie Brocklehurst

Chapter 5       

AUMI as a Model for Social Justice

George Lipsitz

Chapter 6       

The Dream of AUMI


Section II: Software for All People: Improvising AUMI’s Development           

Chapter 7       

AUMI in the Context of Adaptive Music

Alex Lubet

Chapter 8       

AUMI Among the ADMIs: The Adaptive Digital Context

Grace Shih-en Leu

Chapter 9       

AUMI Development and Developers: The DLI Years (2007-2012)

Sherrie Tucker

Chapter 10     

AUMI Technology Development at McGill (2012-2019)

John Sullivan, Ivan Franco, Ian Hattwick, Thomas Ciufo, Eric Lewis

Chapter 11     

How Adaptive, How Useful? Technological Design Solutions in AUMI for iOS

Henry Lowengard

Chapter 12     

Pauline’s World of Virtuosos: Expanded Instruments, Deep Listening, and Stretched Boundaries

Jonas Braasch

Section III, Part 1:AUMI Communities    

Chapter 13     

Exploring AUMI’s Potential in the Thunder Bay Community

An Interview between Nicola Oddy and Lise Vaugeois

Chapter 14     

Building and Sustaining Ethical Communities Together

An Interview with Rebecca Caines by Ellen Waterman

Chapter 15     

There’s No Place Like AUMI: Building a Community Partnership in Lawrence, Kansas

Jim Barnes, Kip Haaheim, Ray Mizumura-Pence, Sherrie Tucker, and Ranita Wilks

Chapter 16     

Love, Actually: Using AUMI to Transgress Ableist Directing Habits

Nicole Hodges Persley

Chapter 17     

Wooden Snapdragon

Julie Unruh

Chapter 18     

Improvising Inclusive Communities: Shared Reflections on the Jesse Stewart Residency in Lawrence, Kansas

Abbey Dvorak, Kip Haaheim, Ray Mizumura-Pence, and Sherrie Tucker

Chapter 19     

Sending and Receiving: AUMI Bodies and Dance Improvisation

Michelle Heffner Hayes and Sherrie Tucker

Chapter 20     

Communities of Generosity and Gratitude: AUMI-KU InterArts’ First Decade

Ray Mizumura-Pence

Section III, Part 2:AUMI Performance     

Chapter 21     

WAAM + AUMI: The We Are All Musicians Project and the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument

Jesse Stewart

Chapter 22     

“To Me, Dance is a Home”: An Interview with Jessie Huggett

Jessie Huggett Interviewed by Jack Hui Litster

Chapter 23     

“I Am Here”: AUMI Sings and Choral Participation

Ellen Waterman, Laurel Forshaw, Gillian Siddall, Henry Lowengard, Gale Franklin, Teresa Connors, and Karen Berglander

Chapter 24     

AUMI, Theremin, and Sonic Witnessing

Li Harris

Chapter 25

AUMI in Practice: The Mills AIE

Matt Robidoux

Chapter 26     

Knowing as Feeling: Five Meditations on the Planets

Kip Haaheim

Section IV, Part 1: AUMI Classrooms       

Jennifer Hurst and Grace Shih-en Leu

Chapter 27     

Working with AUMI in Classroom Settings in a Center School for Students with Severe Cognitive and Physical Challenges

Deborah A. Nelson and Nancy Patterson

Chapter 28     

AUMI and ‘Improvise Approach’ Backing Tracks

Carrie Lennard

Chapter 29     

AUMI and the Ethics of Technology: A Personal Encounter

Eric Lewis

Section IV, Part 2: AUMI and Music Therapy: Supporting Independent Musicking  

Abbey Dvorak and Nicola Oddy         

Chapter 30     

Clinical Applications Using AUMI in Music Therapy Practice

Abbey L. Dvorak, James Maxson, and David Knott

Chapter 31     

Use of AUMI in Clinical Music Therapy for Hospitalized Patients with Complex Neurological Disabilities

Sergio Hazard

Chapter 32     

AUMI and Musical Empowerment in a Pediatric Environment

John Mulcahy

Section V: Dreaming AUMI Futures          

Chapter 33     

Dream Music

Julie Unruh

Chapter 34     

Dreaming AUMI’S Future



Editorial Team and Chapter Contributors 


Improvising Across Abilities: Pauline Oliveros and the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) brings together scholars, musicians, and family members, with and without disabilities, to collectively recount years of personal experiences, research, and perspectives on the societal and community impact of inclusive musical improvisation. One of the lesser-known projects of composer, improviser, and humanitarian, Pauline Oliveros (1932–2016), the AUMI was designed as a liberating and affordable alternative to the constraints of instruments created only for normative bodies, thus opening a doorway for people of all ages, genders, abilities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds to access artistic practice with others. More than a book about AUMI, this book is an invitation to readers to use AUMI in their own communities. 

This book, which contains wisdom from many who have been affected by their work with the instrument and the people who use it, is a representation of how music and extemporized performance have touched the lives and minds of scholars and families alike. Not only has AUMI provided the opportunity to grow in listening to others who may speak differently (or not at all), but it has been used as an avenue for a diverse set of people to build friendships with others whom they may have never otherwise even glanced at in the street. By providing a space for every person who comes across AUMI to perform, listen, improvise, and collaborate, the continuing development of this instrument contributes to a world in which every person is heard, welcomed, and celebrated.

The AUMI Editorial Collective includes Thomas Ciufo, Abbey Dvorak, Kip Haaheim, Jennifer Hurst, IONE, Grace Shih-en Leu, Leaf Miller, Ray Mizumura-Pence, Nicola Oddy, Jesse Stewart, John Sullivan, Sherrie Tucker, Ellen Waterman, and Ranita Wilks.

"Improvising Across Abilities is perhaps the only manuscript of its kind: one that explores the applications of one adaptive music technology, AUMI, in extraordinary depth through multivalent perspectives and scenarios via the words and metaphors of an extraordinarily varied collective of writers, students, teachers, social justice workers, technologists, community activists, group home directors, and creatives. While most scholarly essay collections feature chapters by academics from a narrow range of fields (if not a single one), this volume’s editorial team has consciously drawn writing from members of the public community who might not ordinarily contribute to such a collection, as well as from artists, scientists, and professors who write as part of their profession. The variation in writers and voices not only adds to the value of the book, but reinforces its argument that everyone, no matter what shape, size, or ability, should have a voice."

- Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Brooklyn College

“The awe-inspiring creator and thinker Pauline Oliveros is recognized for her pioneering electronic compositions, the astonishing diversity of her musical creations, her multifaceted poetic and expository writing, and her dedicated teaching of Deep Listening over many years. Some of her best-known work, the Sonic Meditations and Deep Listening Pieces, offers brief verbal instructions to allow groups to create musical experiences together, regardless of the musical training or experience of the people involved. An extension of this inclusiveness came in her later years with the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), now a freely downloadable app that allows users, including people with limited physical mobility, to participate in music making in new and provocative ways. This well-conceived book makes available a stunning wealth of information about AUMI by writers from many different backgrounds.”

- Fred Maus, University of Virginia

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