Audio and Video:
Light Piece for
David Tudor

Panel still frame showing Pauline Oliveros
Pauline Oliveros composed Light Piece for David Tudor in 1965, while directing the San Francisco Tape Music Center, which she founded in the early 1960s with fellow composers Morton Subotnik and Ramon Sender. Light Piece, written for David Tudor, contains no musical score. Oliveros prepared the piece by simultaneously running twenty tape machines that recorded many tape loops of sustained D flats on the piano. She intended an effect of harmonics and overtones resonating from the sustained D flats. To her surprise, however, the loop machines ran at different speeds, producing slight variations in the D flat pitch. In performance, Oliveros used two stereo machines to play back her tapes, while Tudor followed her instructions to play D flat on the piano in as may different ways as possible. He used all kinds of objects, including a vibrator, an induction coil, and a variety of mallets, sticks, and other objects. The sounds were accompanied by light refractions created by a prism that Anthony Martin suspended and let spin until it wound down.

Tudor premiered Light Piece at the San Francisco Tape Music Center in 1965 and gave a second performance of the piece the same year at the Case Institute in Cleveland, Ohio.

Pauline Oliveros generously provided this history of the making of Light Piece.