An exploration of the instrument that allows everyone to access artistic practice
Improvising Across Abilities: Pauline Oliveros and the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) brings together scholars, musicians, and family members of people with 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