(b Concord, NH, March 7, 1940; d Cheektowaga, NY, April 9, 2016). American filmmaker, composer, violinist, and media artist. He began playing violin in his youth and studied with Ronald Knudsen. He became fascinated with the physics of sounds and interested in intonation, the harmonic series, long-held tones, and the act of close listening. He attended Harvard University and received an AB in mathematics in 1962. While at Harvard he met Henry Flynt and Christian George Wolff and became involved with the post-Cagean avant garde based in New York. In 1959 Conrad met La Monte Young, who became a frequent collaborator in the mid-1960s. Conrad credited an encounter with the music of 17th-century composer and violinist Heinrich Ignaz Biber in the late 1950s with a profound transformation of his musical thinking, drawing his attention to variable tunings and the role of timbre as an aesthetic concern. Conrad’s exposure to the music of Ali Akbar Khan also heightened his interest in drones as a basis for musical performance....
(b Napier, New Zealand, May 14, 1946). Intermedia artist whose transdisciplinary practice includes video/sound work and installations, experimental instruments, graphic scores, and improvisation. He studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland (DipFA Hons, 1971) and the University of West Sydney, Nepean (MA Hons, 2000). Since the early 1970s his sound-based artworks have involved newly invented instruments. A member of the original Scratch Orchestra in London (1968–9), Dadson founded Scratch Orchestra (NZ) in 1970 and later From Scratch (1974–2004). A key part of From Scratch’s development was instrument invention, from using found objects to making unique, custom-designed devices. Tunings evolved from randomly pitched sounds to 12-note and microtonal tunings, and just intonation. Central to this development were tuned percussion stations composed of rack-supported, four-tiered assemblies of PVC pipes, tuned-tongue bamboos and bells (in which parallel slots cut in the materials produce a vibrating tongue matching the resonant frequency of the open or closed tubes), and roto-tom drums, combined with special methods of playing. These percussion stations, along with other novel struck and spun acoustic instruments, produced the characteristic From Scratch sound. More recent instruments include the Zitherum (long-stringed instruments that are drummed and bowed), the metal-pronged Nundrum, the stroked RodBaschet, the gong tree, Foley-trays, the Water Cooler Drumkit, water bells, the Gloop-spring-string-drum family, the Sprong family, and other fanciful types....
(b New York, NY, Aug 5, 1953). American composer and media artist. He studied film and video art at the State University of New York at Buffalo (MA 1976) and composition with Pauline Oliveros (1974), La Monte Young (1974–6), and finally alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University (MA 1982). He has directed and composed music for a number of his own ensembles, including the Orchestra of Excited Strings, the first iteration of which formed in 1979. Among the most rock-oriented of minimalist composers, he has experimented with performance techniques, explored original systems of tuning, and modified or created new instruments to achieve specific timbral effects. In 1984 he moved to Berlin, where he became composer-in-residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. Since arriving in Europe he has expanded his creative activities: staging multi-day performances (The Memory Projects, 1995–2001); creating installations such as From the Archives...
revised by Cecilia Sun
(Peter George St John Le Baptiste de la Salle )
(b Woodbridge, UK, May 15, 1948). English composer, singer, keyboard player, sound artist, and producer. He attended art school in Ipswich and Winchester, during which time he was inspired by John Cage’s Silence to develop an interest in experimental music. He later joined the Scratch Orchestra and the Portsmouth Sinfonia. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, playing keyboard on their first two albums Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For your Pleasure (Island, 1973). By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VCS 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an “aural collagist.” After leaving Roxy Music, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with Robert Fripp) and Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In ...
(b Plzeň, 19 April 1940). Czech artist. He studied at the Pedagogical Faculty, Preliminary Art School, Academy of Fine Arts, and Mathematical Faculty of Charles University, none of which he finished. His career began in the 1960s and has included painting, happenings, performances, musical compositions, collages, and objects. Between 1999 and 2011, he was director at the National Gallery in Prague, and in 1990 started leading an intermedia class at the Academy of Visual Arts. He is the recipient of a number of grants and prizes, including DAAD, Schloss Bleckede, Design Werkstatt, and Akademie Schloss Solitude.
Best known as a controversial artist working in a variety of disciplines, Knížák has engaged with music in many ways throughout his career. In his early teens, he began composing popular songs under the influence of Jaroslav Ježek and the popular music of the day. In 1965 he began making a series titled ‘Destroyed Music’, in which he scratched, broke, painted over, or burnt vinyl records, and then played them back, the final artifact being either a new record or an installation. He also applied this method to written music, creating a number of diverse collages using both his own and other people’s music, and making use of photographs and press clippings in addition to printed and handwritten scores....
(b Paris, France, Oct 20, 1950). American composer, keyboardist, electronic musician, and improviser of French birth; naturalized American; daughter of jazz pianist and drummer Errol Parker. She began studying piano and harmony at age 7 and composing at 12. Lauten received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Institut d’Études Politiques in 1971. The following year she relocated to New York City, where she participated in the burgeoning punk rock scene. Through guitarist Denise Feliu, Lauten met the poet Allen Ginsberg, who would have a significant impact upon her spiritual and musical life.
Lauten’s compositional and improvisational practice is exemplary of the musical aesthetics of downtown New York in the 1970s and 80s. A practitioner of both US popular music and European classical music, Lauten blended the two styles with minimalist experimentalism. Lauten’s studies in New York City brought her into contact with the varied denizens of downtown musical life. She studied Indian raga with ...
[Hall, Richard Melville ]
(b Harlem, NY; Sept 11, 1965). American Electronic musician, composer, and DJ. Growing up in Connecticut, Moby (a childhood nickname) studied classical guitar and music theory before founding the suburban punk band Vatican Commandos at age 14. He later learned to play bass guitar, keyboard, and drums. While studying philosophy at University of Connecticut he played with post-punk band AWOL, leaving in 1985 to become more active as a DJ and electronic musician and eventually moving to New York City.
He is critically recognized for his creative combining of electronic house music and judiciously chosen samples; he has also achieved worldwide popular success and brought the genre to mainstream attention. His 1991 single “Go,” which included a sampled theme from David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks, reached the UK top ten. His breakthrough album Play (1999) sold 10 million copies worldwide in the first year and yielded eight hit singles including “Porcelain,” “Natural Blues,” and “Why does my heart feel so bad?” ...
(b Madison, WI, 1979). American sound artist, installation artist, electronic composer, laptop performer, and visual artist. Based in Los Angeles, he has collaborated with Will Long, Mise_En_Scene, and Marc Manning, among others, and exhibited and performed throughout the United States and Europe. He owns and operates Dragon’s Eye Recordings, which promotes promising but under-recognized sound artists and composers.
Novak’s installations, along with his electronic compositions and performances, typically consist of quiet, subtly shifting textures. These sounds are often field recordings of environmental sounds, digitally transformed into exquisite drones or slow-moving melodies, as in +ROOM (2009). Novak’s work is often associated with Ambient music, demonstrating the fluid, and indeed questionable, nature of the boundary between music and field recording or, generally speaking, between music and sound art. However, unlike ambient music, Novak’s pieces are often programmatic. The goal, in many of his works, is to transform documentation into narrative by digitally altering prerecorded sounds and images. His alterations often consist not of fleshing out sounds and images by adding to their characteristics, but of digitally erasing their distinguishing features. He may obliterate the movement that we typically see in video, reducing it to a static expanse of color. Similarly, he alters environmental sounds beyond recognition into contemplative textures....
(b Buffalo, NY, July 13, 1956). Composer, performer, vocalist, and media artist. Her creative output has focused on the combination of two primary elements: her vocal performance (capable of operatic lyricism as well as extended techniques) and her use of computer technology. Z began experimenting with recording devices in her youth and made pieces that layered her voice with homemade instruments and concrete sounds. She went on to study classical vocal performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder and performed as a singer-songwriter. She relocated to San Francisco in 1984 where she began performing her own inter-media theatrical works and concerts. Her performance pieces situate her in a field of processed and live sound accompanied by video or projected images.
A prominent feature of Z’s compositional practice is her use of various delay and sound processing technology. Her early works used digital delays, effects units, and samplers that manipulated her voice, MIDI-generated sounds, and samples. In ...
Jeff E. Winner
(b Brooklyn, NY, Sept 10, 1908; d North Hills, CA, Feb 9, 1994). American composer, electronic music pioneer, electronic instrument inventor, and pianist. After attending Brooklyn Technical High School, he studied theory, composition, and piano at the Juilliard School of Music. Following his graduation in 1931, he became a pianist for the CBS Radio orchestra. In 1934, at age 25, he wrote his first hit, later recorded by Louis Armstrong.
In 1936 he assembled a six-piece “Quintette” from his CBS colleagues, including Bunny Berigan, and Johnny Williams, father of movie score composer John Williams. Following successful live radio performances, they began recording on 20 February 1937. Scott’s compositions for this band represent his attempts to rejuvenate Swing music with minimal improvisation and busy, tight arrangements. He dubbed the style “descriptive jazz,” and the Quintette was popular until he disbanded it in 1939. Though Scott didn’t score cartoons, these compositions are familiar to millions because they were adapted into classic Warner Bros. ...