(b Memphis, TN, 17 June 1957). American artist, composer, performer, and instrument inventor best known for inventing the Long String Instrument. Originally interested in visual and performance art, Fullman attended the Kansas City Art Institute where she began to incorporate sound into her works, at first through the manipulation of magnetic tape. Her first major work was the Metal Skirt Sound Sculpture (1980), an assemblage consisting of amplified guitar strings stretched between the artist’s shoes and a pleated metal skirt. Indirectly influenced by Alvin Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire (1977), Fullman began experimenting with extended lengths of wire in 1980 and gave the first public performance on a prototype of the Long String Instrument at the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis in November 1981.The design of the Long String Instrument has varied significantly over time and in different installations. It generally consists of several dozen stainless steel, phosphor bronze, or brass wires that are arranged in groups stretched horizontally at about waist height. Depending on the specific installation, the wires span from about 15 to 90 metres. At one end the strings are affixed perpendicularly to the soundboards of securely anchored wooden box resonators (designed in cooperation with the instrument maker Stephen Wise). The strings extend to blocks where they are fastened to tuning pins and tensioned just below their breaking point in order to maximize resonance. A brass capo of unique design (originally a C-clamp) on each string determines its vibrating length. Because the sound arises from longitudinal rather than transverse vibrations, string material (density) and length alone determine pitch, not tension (about 18 kg per string) or thickness. Consequently, the strings sound at a much higher pitch than might be expected from their length. Once tensioned, the strings are tuned by means of the capos in a flexible system of just intonation and typically encompass a range of three octaves down from ...
Edmond T. Johnson
(b Kansas, c1880; d Angel’s Camp, CA, 1969). American composer and sound sculptor. He studied music in the San Francisco Bay area, but in the 1920s he abandoned composition, burning all his scores. From that time his interests slowly turned to sound sculpture and for over 30 years he constructed wind-, water-, fire-, and gravity-powered works at Angel’s Camp in the California mountains. His earliest piece, which used wind chimes, was built in 1934; wind-powered elements that appeared later included bell-chimes, tubular chimes, piano strings, and drums struck by beaters, whistle holes, and a slide pipe consisting of two concentric tubes. He constructed a total of 53 aeolian instruments. He first used water in a sound sculpture in 1947 and his only work to involve fire was built in 1955. After his death his sculptures were dispersed to remote locations; this was done in accordance with his will, which is also the cause of the almost complete lack of information about his work, since it directed that many documents be destroyed or suppressed....
(b Milan, Italy, July 31, 1941; d 2002). Italian composer, pianist, photographer, and designer of instruments. He studied piano and composition at the Milan Conservatory and photography at the London College of Printing before moving in 1963 to New York, where he assisted Richard Avedon. He returned to Milan in 1967 and the following year opened a commercial photography studio, while also pursuing music and video art. In 1972–3 he was a member of NADMA (the Natural Arkestra de Maya Alta), which mixed Asian-inspired sounds with jazz and other Western genres. From the mid-1970s he composed theatrical concert works in which traditional instruments and their performance techniques are reassessed, and devised several large-scale sound environments. In Quartet (c1975) a harpist with harp is encased in a one-piece fitted, knitted, costume-like covering, a performer on free-reed instruments (mouth organ, accordion, and foot-operated table bandoneon) is gradually incapacitated by being mummified in sticky tape, and a violinist and pianist have their fields of operation restricted by specially constructed containers for parts of their instruments. In another work a harp is played with metal mesh gloves to which about 50 nails are attached. Mosconi’s sound environments include ...
Ingram D. Marshall
revised by David Atkinson Wells
(b New Brunswick, NJ, April 12, 1942). American composer and instrument builder. He studied singing at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey (BMA 1964), and at Rutgers University (1967–70), and composition and Javanese music at the California Institute of the Arts (MFA 1973), where his principal teachers were morton Subotnick and Ki Wasitodipura. He did postgraduate work in Javanese music with the American Society for Eastern Arts (1973–5). Schmidt has taught at the University of California, Berkeley; Sonoma (California) State College; University of California, Santa Barbara; and currently teaches gamelan and musical instrument building at Mills College in Oakland, California. He also spent more than 30 years teaching gamelan and musical instrument building to elementary and middle-school students, primarily at San Francisco-area institutions such as the East Bay School of the Arts. He is artistic director of the Berkeley Gamelan, which he founded in ...
(b 1948, Hardwick, MA). American composer, guitarist, and instrument designer. Smith began piano lessons at the age of eight before deciding to take up the electric guitar in his teens. He later performed with several local rock bands. He enrolled at Berklee College of Music to study jazz but dropped out before completing his first year. A few months later he moved to California to attend CalArts (BFA 1975; MFA 1977), where he worked with morton Subotnick . He also studied privately with mel Powell , james Tenney , earle Brown , and harold Budd . Working as a professional welder and machinist in the 1970s, he began his first serious experimentations with instrument design. A large chime made of aluminum tubes set to 45 tones to the octave was used on his first full-length release, Nakadai (1987). The first of his elaborate structures, the Bass Tweed (1993), was assembled from junk metal. Smith has focused much of his activity around his sound sculptures, which are featured on the albums ...
(b Istein, now part of Efringen-Kirchen, Germany, Nov 26, 1951). German instrument inventor, kinetic sculptor, sound artist, and composer, known as Trimpin. His father was a brass and woodwind player, and Trimpin played with old instruments as a child but developed an allergy to metals that precluded performing on brass instruments. Instead he experimented with making new devices using old radios and parts of discarded instruments. He studied music and art at the University of Berlin from 1975 to 1979. From 1976 to 1979 he was a musician for the Theater Zentrifuge in Berlin, and designed sets for the San Quentin Drama Workshop under the direction of Rick Cluchey and Samuel Beckett. In 1979 he left Berlin for Seattle and began independent research in sound sculpture design, combining music composition and kinetics with computer technology. From 1985 to 1987 he taught at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, and in ...
revised by Robert Bigio
(b Dublin, Ireland, 1809; d London, England, May 7, 1864). Irish flutist, composer, flute designer, and manufacturer. He became professor of flute at the Royal Academy of Music in the 1840s, and was an enthusiastic player of Boehm’s 1832 conical flute as made by Rudall & Rose from 1843. He published the first English-language tutor for the instrument, followed by further editions. However, Clinton appears to have fallen out with Boehm after failing to persuade him to allow Clinton to produce Boehm’s newly invented (1847) cylindrical flute in London (Boehm sold the rights to Rudall & Rose instead). Clinton then denounced Boehm’s work, declaring his opposition to Boehm’s open-standing (fully vented) key system (the virtues of which he had previously extolled) as well as to Boehm’s cylindrical bore and his use of metal for the body.
In 1848 Clinton registered the first of his four patents for flutes, to which he gave the name Equisonant. These use a fingering system similar to that of the eight-keyed flute, on a conical bore but with a mechanism that allows the tone holes to be better placed. After ...
(b Kirchheim, Germany, Feb 21, 1746; d Vienna, Austria, June 25, 1792). German musician, composer, and woodwind instrument maker active in Pressburg and Vienna. Lotz is first documented as a clarinettist: on 17 Dec 1772 he performed a clarinet concerto in a Tonkünstlersocietät concert in Vienna, and in 1775 performed his own clarinet concerto in Pressburg. About this time Lotz became of a member of Cardinal Batthyány’s orchestra in Pressburg, where he served as first clarinettist, played viola when necessary, and directed rehearsals. Lotz remained a member of this orchestra until it disbanded in 1783. It has been suggested, without evidence, that Lotz was a member of the orchestras of Cardinal de Rohan (until 1774) and Prince (Johann?) Esterházy.
Lotz is remembered primarily as an innovative instrument maker. He made for Anton Stadler the basset clarinet for which Mozart wrote his concerto k622. C.F. Cramer (Magazin der Musik...
(b San Rafael, CA, Jan 11, 1955). American sound artist, turntablist, composer, filmmaker, and visual artist. Raised in Switzerland, Marclay studied sculpture at the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva and the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and the Fluxus movement, the use of found objects became a formative principle of Marclay’s work. He has collaborated with Christian Wolff, Otomo Yoshihide, Sonic Youth, and John Zorn, among others.
In the mid-1970s, Marclay used turntables as improvising musical instruments, apparently inventing Turntablism. Like hip-hop DJs of the same era, though their work proceeded independently, Marclay developed performance techniques such as scratching and mixing. He believes his use of turntables to be similar to Duchamp’s methods: using found objects to create new art, by putting one’s own stamp on the objects and exhibiting them.
Throughout his career, he has embraced the residual noises produced by recording media, especially the hisses and pops of vinyl records. His work emphasizes the fact that when 20th- and 21st-century listeners experience music, oftentimes they are listening not only to the music but to the ...
George J. Grella
(b Albuquerque, NM, April 19, 1957). American composer, performer, instrument builder, and journalist. In high school he learned to play guitar, flute, violin, and percussion. In 1976 he enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory, where he built a Serge modular synthesizer. He also formed the Fall Mountain ensemble with the reed player Ned Rothenberg and the violinist Jim Katzin. After leaving Oberlin in 1979 without a degree, he toured with Anthony Braxton’s Creative Music Orchestra then settled in New York. There he began playing with John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Wayne Horvitz, and Fred Frith and embarked on an idiosyncratic and individualistic career.
Ostertag’s work is holistic; he has developed his compositions inseparably from the instruments he has designed, the musicians with whom he has collaborated and improvised, and the explicit and passionate political opinions he has sought to express. In 1980 he released his first solo album, Getting a Head...