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Artist's Statement Some examples of innovative musical activities (chronologically):
In terms of compositional innovations, Simons has explored:
David J. Simons (845) 290 6746 email@example.com
Jan 28, 2008
David Simons is a composer and performer who develops new techniques and adapts new methods from the near future such as:
of playing instruments; designs and builds new instruments; and evolves new theories and practices
for the composition of music. Performances of his music take place in concerts internationally, and in
collaborations with dance, theater, film, opera, sound installation, new media, and in recordings
distributed as CDs, radio broadcast, downloads or other technologies
audio implants, post-traumatic sound replacement therapy, and direct inscription upon the inner
skull casing (sonic scrimshaw). Please see a specialist before accessing these methods!
1. Bringing the Zheng (16 string Chinese zither) into a more expansive sonic vocabulary by bowing the strings, and using chopsticks in a hammered dulcimer technique (Indian Santur), and recontextualizing the instrument by performing improvisational and composed music along with other Western and Eastern instruments, other cultures, and electronics.
2. Adapting the lap steel (slide) guitar by placing long curved strips of spring steel on the strings, activating them with mallets, serrated edges, and placing unstable metal objects like bowls and electrical junction boxes upon the strings, causing multiple sound generating activities.
3. Virtuosic new techniques of Jaw harp playing, using a whole variety of American, European, North and Southeast Asian instruments to form a new type of music unbound by region or style.
4. Creating orchestras built out of scrap materials, recycled plastic, wood, metal and styrofoam, in collaboration with other like minded environmental musical explorers, and with these new sounds writing a music for percussion, winds and strings on invented instruments, free of the tonal or formal restrictions of any particular culture or tradition.With more conventional notation, Simons has produced large performances of his works including the opera "Birth of George" which premiered at La Mama in 1997, and "Music for Theremin and Gamelan" which was taught to musicians in Bali and performed at Sacred Rhythm Millennial Festival there (and in NYC at the Knitting Factory and The Kitchen). String quartets, music for gamelan festivals, and for ensembles of various sizes and instrumentation have been composed, recorded, performed (see resume'). Many of Simons' solo and ensemble soundtracks for dance (Sincha Hong Laughing Stone, Ronald K. Brown' Evidence) have toured the world and U.S. theaters.
5. Evolving the Theremin, earliest of electronic musical instruments, into the digital era by using it's proximity sensitivity to trigger a digital sampler, via Midi. Volume and pitch control is transformed into velocity information, which activates different strata of samples (of any sound) and a whole new area of interactive performance technique is born.
6. Combining Indonesian Gamelan with other cultures, other instruments, and writing new music for the ensembles, such as "Cool it Wayang" for improvising jazz trombone and voice with gamelan; "Music for Theremin and Gamelan" which was performed in Bali to much local amazement; "Kebyar Leyak" using UFO abduction text combined with Balinese poltergeist legends and transitioning between sampled and "real" gamelan.
7. Composing music for the Harry Partch instruments, which use a 43 tone just-intonation system and completely unique instrumentation. Newband ensemble premiered "Odentity" in Feb 2007 and is expected to record it for Simons' next Tzadik release
8. The newly developed technique of Gong-Humping is about to be unveiled, in which the players dampen the large hanging gongs with their legs. While straddling one gong to control the dampening or ringing, a player also strikes the two adjacent ringing gongs to create rhythmic and melodic patterns.
graphic notation - "The Night Sky in October" (1973) uses a chart of the stars on a disc which revolves by hand, and a stationary clear plastic staff line overlay - the stars become notes
large scale flow charts - "An Arch is A Key" (1979) for 4 ensembles, delineating entrances, exits, dynamics, tempi and instrumentation over time (San Francisco Free Music Festival). Published in EAR magazine.
new theory of music - "Alien Communications Research Project" (1974-80) how musical compositions can be generated from outer space sources, and mythologies developed to contain them.
process pieces - "Naked We Stand" (1985-6) performed at 1st International Gamelan Festival (Expo'86 Canada), using additive and subtractive modular repetitions to create evolving counterpoints.
open form - "Alien Communications" (1989) which toured Europe as a duet w/Simons and Maroney describing collages, textures and independent tempo changes without a fixed beginning or ending.
number & symbol based - "Cipher" (1992) for string quartet uses numbers to represent musical gestures. "Lishta" (1975) interprets symbology as musical events.
interactive - "Virtual Percussion Trio" (1999) for viola, voice and theremin, in which each player Midi-triggers banks of percussion loops, phrases and individual sound samples, using volume and pitch to generate Midi velocity info.
Premiered at Galapagos, Brooklyn and performed in Java, and the Brussels Theremin Convention.
conceptual - "Structure Without Music" (1991) composed in response to criticism of a concert - that it had tons of content, but no form
text based - "Assent" (2007) commissioned by Issue Project Room, instructions on musical processes and interaction between players.
As Contributing Editor for EAR Magazine from 1985-92, Simons wrote in-depth articles, interviews, concert reviews of significant musical or sound-art events in NYC at the time, including a Diamanda Galas spectacle, Muntadas installations, Wendy Chambers multiples (10 Grand pianos, 100 harps,etc), Festival of Indonesia, recreation of Antheil's Ballet Mechanique, new drum triggered electronics (Mori, Linton, Bennett), and much more. For the Semiotexte book in 1994 about radio, Simons examined radio waves in space, from Tesla listening for backround noise, to quasars, radio telescopes, sci-fi and popular culture, to current extraterrestrial searches.
Simons has a considerable career as a percussionist and multi-instrumentalist, performing and recording premieres of music by Henry Brant, Charles Ives, Laura Andel, Shelley Hirsch, David First, Denman Maroney, Barbara Benary, Daniel Goode, Skip LaPlante, JinHi Kim; with choreographers Mark Morris, Douglas Dunn, and theater artists Mabou Mines, Julie Taymor.
Some examples of innovative musical activities (chronologically):
In terms of compositional innovations, Simons has explored: