School of Music Visiting Artist
CHRIS BROWN, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, makes music with self- designed sonic systems that include acoustic and electroacoustic instruments, interactive software, computer networks, microtonal tunings, and improvisation. His compositions are designs for performances in which people bring to life the musical structures embedded in scores, instruments, and machines.
His early work featured electroacoustic instruments he invented and built, like the Gazamba (1982), an electric percussion piano featured in Alternating Currents (1984), for the Berkeley Symphony and three soloists. He designed and built his own computer-controlled analog signal-processing system for the environmental sound piece Lava (1992), for brass, percussion, and live electronics. Talking Drum (1995-2000), was a MIDI network installation that explored polyrhythm, distance, and resonance in large architectural spaces. He is a member since 1986 of the pioneering computer network music band The Hub, which received the 2018 Giga-Hertz Award for Lifetime Achievement in Electronic Music from ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. Throughout his career he has composed solos for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics using software he writes for his compositions and improvisations. Since 2005 he has written music in just intonation, often integrating rhythmic structures that parallel the proportions used in their tunings.
Recordings of his music are available on New World, fo’c’sle, Tzadik, Pogus, Intakt, Rastascan, Ecstatic Peace, Red Toucan, Leo, and Artifact Recordings. He has also performed and recorded music by Henry Cowell, Luc Ferrari, José Maceda, John Zorn, David Rosenboom, Larry Ochs, Glenn Spearman, and Wadada Leo Smith; as an improvisor he has performed and recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, William Winant, and Frank Gratkowski..
From 1990-2018 he taught electronic music, theory, composition, world music, and contemporary performance practice as Professor of Music and Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) at Mills College in Oakland.