This fragmented essay considers listening as a form of place-making, and suggests - against venerations of listening as inherently liberatory - that listening is labour, and can be imbricated with violence. It was commissioned by the composer Rebecca Lee for the printed score for her work ‘Making it up, this moment of June’ for Radar, Loughborough University. 


Listening is a technology.
                      This score
                      an injunction

                                probe (at) where this technology
                                                                                    might take us

what would it mean to conceive of an ensemble as a place?

to prefigure and explore and explode the worlds it might create


Listening is not a technology of replication;
it is a technology of reproduction

“what gives a place its specificity is not some long internalized
history but the fact that it is constructed out of a particular
constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together
at a particular locus.”1

to incite

Against harmony as Utopia!

to ask
Who listens?
To whom?
Are they paid? Paying? Burdened? Obli


places are also products of "[t]he non-meetings up, the disconnections and the
relations not established, the exclusions."2
                  ged? Willing? Exhausted? Dr i f t i
n g

o f f ?

Enthused? Open? Closed? Lying?
(can listening be lying?, I think it can)
Encouraging? Bored? Intriuged? Stimulated? Willing it to stop?


        to become something else
To listen is to admit the possibility of transformation.
weaving (dis)connection

“[M]usic honours harmony; it spreads spiritual influence and is in conformity with heaven: when the rites and music are clear and complete, heaven and earth fulfil their normal functions.”3

To be a good listener is to make space for dissonance.
        For the signal that jars.
                For the sound that is
out of place.For the note that doesn’t
b e l o n g

In a 1941 interview, Duke Ellington drew a parallel between his music and thecondition of the US’ Black population. The interviewer writes of him playing “one of his most recent compositions, a combination of Cuban music and the unmistakbale Ellington rhythm..."That's the Negro's life," he said. "Hear that chord!"—he set the needle back to replay the chord—"That's us." "Dissonance is our way of life in America. We are something apart, yet an integral part."

Against normal functions!


to work collectively

Reproduction is co-production.
        We do not listen to, but listen with.
        What happens when the ensemble listens?
Take place. Make place.

Harmony is knowing your place

Do not fetishize listening.

Tierce de Picardie
As the End of History

To be a good listener is not necessarily to do good.

(Whose harmony?
Whose history?)
What does a listener do with dissonance?

(Who’s harmony?
Who’s history?)

It is not enough to say that listening is reproductive.

Harmony is always someone’s harmony.

We must know what listening reproduces. All that is radical can be picked and used to poison the soil from which it grew.

Harmony is stolen land.4

Jazz for CEOs.
        Freire for Security Forces.
                Situationism for colonizers.

‘Active listening’, say the College of Policing, ‘assists the interviewer to establish and maintain a rapport.’5
        Oliveros for cops?

Listening is a technology.
maintain                                   a                                 rapport
There are no technological solutions to political problems.


to extrapolate.
        to estrange.
weaving (dis)connection
This score is a work of science fiction.

        Make it up.
        this moment of June

1) Doreen Massey, ‘A Global Sense of Place’
2)  ibid
3)  Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian
4) ‘The territory...was at one time occupied, as was all of Indiana, by several [Indigenous] tribes who were organized into the Miami Confederation... made up of several of the central Algonquin tribes, of which in Indiana the Potowatomies, Weas, and Piankashaws were the most powerful. One of their principal settlements was along the Wabash River...near where the community of Harmonie/New Harmony was later established.’ (Indiana State Government website)
5) UK College of Policing, ‘Investigative Interviewing’