(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....
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 New Britain, CT, 1952). American video, new media, and sound artist, electroacoustic composer, and guitarist. Educated at the Eastman School of Music (BM), the Hartt School at the University of Hartford (MM), and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (DMA), Gwiazda is now professor of composition and music theory at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. Early in his career he composed for orchestra and electric guitar, securing performances by the New Britain Symphony, the American Dance Festival, and others.
In 1986 he turned to electroacoustic music, performing throughout the United States and Europe on sampler, guitar, and tape. In the tradition of musique concrète, Gwiazda’s collage-like pieces emphasized the musical potential inherent in environmental sounds and other so-called noises. In 1992 he began working with virtual audio: the use of sound to simulate immersive, three-dimensional spaces. His 1994 installation buzzingreynold’sdreamland uses a precise configuration of speakers to give the listener the impression of being inside a bowl of sound (Gwiazda’s sampled, vocal, and guitar sounds). ...
(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 ...
(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 ...
[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....
Victoria Eli Rodríguez
(b Havana, Jan 18, 1949). Cuban composer and pianist. He studied the piano with César Pérez Sentenat, Silvio Rodríguez Cárdenas, Margot Rojas and Ninowska Fernández-Britto, and composition with Enrique Bellver. When the Instituto Superior de Arte was established (1976) he studied composition with Ardévol, as his last pupil. He has won numerous prizes for composition, the most outstanding of which include La Edad de Oro, for music for children, the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba awards for both symphonic and electro-acoustic music, the 12th International Electro-acoustic Music Competition in Bourges (France) in 1984, and the 3rd TRIMALACA in Rio de Janeiro (1985). As the composer himself affirms, his music can be both profoundly lyrical and an obvious joke at the expense of conventionality. His earliest composition, La ‘cosa’ no está en el título for piano (1972–3), is in sonata form and exploits the rich effects produced by the pianistic treatment of avant-garde concepts. His songs are based on complex poetic texts, especially the work of poets such as José Martí, Mirta Aguirre, Nicolás Guillén, Humberto Arenal, and Virgilio Piñera. Associated with theatre music from an early age, his pieces have included reworkings of music originally from zarzuelas or musical comedies to create highly contemporary versions for original productions (...
Arvid O. Vollsnes
(b Baerum, April 6, 1952). Norwegian composer and percussionist. He studied composition with Finn Mortensen at the Norges Musikkhøgskole, and extended his studies into electro-acoustic music and sonology with Werner Kaegi in Utrecht. He also studied percussion in Oslo, Århus and the USA. For many years he performed in leading Norwegian orchestras and percussion groups for contemporary music. He is now professor of percussion at the Norges Musikkhøgskole.
He has composed for a variety of ensembles and instruments, but most prominent are his works for percussion, often in combination with electronic sounds. Quite a few of these have been commissions from radio and TV, film, ballet ensembles and theatres. In his best work rhythmic vitality is mirrored by a refined and varied sound in the creation of music that is strongly expressive.
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. ...