Ear Plug Piece

© Tina Pearson, 1984, revised 2010

This score was made for a Sound Studies class at OCAD University in its former Experimental Department, where I taught the course from 1983-87. Its intention was to invite awareness of the objective sounds inside the body, to listen to them completely and intimately, to describe them and then to play or sound them. The score has been used in many workshops, and has also been performed in concert. It was the introductory piece for the facilitated composition “And Beethoven Heard Nothing”, where the audience was invited to wear earplugs as they entered the concert space and found their seats – as the musicians first did their own listening, and then performed their collective sounds. – TP

For any participant or performer on any instrument.

Materials: One pair of ear plugs for each participant or performer.

Put ear plugs in ears (to create a complete vacuum in the ear – expanding foam ear plugs work well). Close eyes.

to the sounds you hear inside your body. Observe what you notice first,
notice how your observation and listening changes.
Notice your breathing. Listen to the changes in the location, quality, and architecture of the sounds as you inhale and exhale. Observe and remember the sounds.
Expand, bit by bit, your awareness of the sounds you can hear while simply observing your body processes. How far inside your body can you listen?

to the sounds made inside your body as you gently move your head,
open or close your jaw, your mouth. Be mindful of each shift, each movement, one at a time. Observe and remember the sounds. Return to stillness. Listen to the sounds made when you move your tongue backward and forward,
massage your pallet with your tongue, swallow, breathe deeper, sigh, yawn, blink,
move your neck, stretch, crack your back, observing the change in location, quality and architecture of the sounds. Come to stillness between each movement to remember the sound.

to the sounds made as you gently touch your face with your fingers, or
as you gently tap on your nose, or your cheeks, or your jaw, or your ears, pausing between each movement. Listen as you tap on the sides, front, back of your head – varying intensity and rhythm, as you ‘play’ your head, face, neck, shoulders, or ribs like a drum and listen inside the space of your body.

back to stillness and breathing, observing the sounds,
from distant corners of your body system,
your breath,
your heart,
your nervous system,
swallowing and blinking.


Still with the earplugs in your ears, let one or two of the sounds you remember from listening inside your body to come to your mind. Remember as much of the sounds as you can. Begin to sound one of the sounds, with your voice, breath, body, object or instrument. Let the sound find its way into the space outside your body. When the sound is established, take out one of your earplugs while continuing to sound. Continue sounding, the same sound or another, letting the sound merge into a wider area around you. Take out the other earplug as you continue to sound. Continue remembering and sounding with the others in the room, imagining the room you are in as one body space sounding. End when the end comes.

6) NOTATE (Optional)
describe the sounds you heard to others, as if making a sound score. Make a sound score by any method – text, drawing, notation or description.

7) (Optional) share the score with others, and perform the sounds together with any instrument or voice.

©2010 Tina Pearson


image: Projections by Tim Gosley, “And Beethoven Heard Nothing” performance with LaSaM Music, May 2010, Victoria, BC


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