Collins, Nicolas (Bernd)
- Kyle Gann
(b New York, March 26, 1954). American composer and performer. At Wesleyan University (BA 1976, MA 1979) he studied the music of Charles Ives, Indian tablā, and performance and composition with Alvin Lucier. From 1980 he worked in New York as a consultant for recording studios while maintaining an active role as a performer and organizer of festivals in the city. He was visiting artistic director of the STEIM electro-acoustic music studio in Amsterdam (1992–5), and in 1994 became co-director of the American ensemble Barton Workshop; in 1997 he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Leonardo Music Journal.
Collins's early works, unsurprisingly for those of a Lucier protégé, use electronic feedback and computer circuitry. In New York he performed on a unique ‘trombone-propelled signal processor’ (with attachments to the mouthpiece), which enabled him to loop and modify sampled sounds and pan these to loudspeakers around the performance space. Other devices include a ‘backwards electric guitar’ – sending sound signals actually inside the instrument for electronic resonance – and a modified compact disc player which allows recordings to be altered during performance. The latter device is used to great effect in ...