Frank Spigner

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My music and other works using sound as its primary descriptive material draws on a wide range of historical influences. I have always been very interested in early Western music, primarily such topics as early temperament and tuning systems, the opposing schools of thought in the music of the Counter-Reformation, and the mannerist composers of the ars subtilior whose work makes up the Chantilly Codex, such as Solage and Baude Cordier, which was a major influence in the formation of my notational methods in my concert music. I am equally influenced by more recent composers, such as Satie, Webern, Messiaen, Varèse, Scelsi, Moondog, Partch, Penderecki, Xenakis, the early minimalists, and the Darmstadt and New York schools of composers.

A major influence on my work has been the development of electronic music from the beginning of acousmatic music and the introduction of musique concrète with Pierre Schaeffer’s Studio d’Essai and Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete, to the Elektronische Musik movement based at the WDR studios in Cologne and American electronic music, such as the composers of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, the San Francisco Tape Music Center, and the group, Composers Inside Electronics. Contemporary aesthetics which inform the direction of my electronic works also include Japanese noise music such as the works of Otomo Yoshide, Sachiko M, and Merzbow, granular and particle based composition, for example the works of Curtis Roads, glitch musicians like Alva Noto and Ryoji Ikeda, much work based out of IRCAM, for instance the works of Georges Aperghis, the algorithmic music and installation work of Olivier Pasquet, and the spectral composers like Murail and Grisey. More mainstream electronic musicians such as Richard Devine, Aphex Twin, Christian Fennesz, and Dan Deacon have also guided my music in new directions.

My music also draws from folk music of various cultures, such as the harmonic and improvisational language of Hindustani classical music, Carnatic music, as well as certain types of African folk music such as the Gnawa and Sephardic music of Morocco and the Zulu-folk derived forms of choral music, Isicathamiya and Marabi, originating in South Africa.

Pioneers of free improvisation and avant-garde jazz has especially shaped my musical language. The works of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, and recently the improvisational and compositional styles of George Lewis, Steve Lehman, Tyshawn Sorey, and Vijay Iyer have influenced my work.

A focal point of my music and sound art deals with using sound as a physical and sculptural medium. I am interested in the linguistic and cognitive aspects of sound, such as the idea of music being primarily an abstraction of cultural language, consisting of sonic symbols which the listener subconsciously assigns meaning to, versus music aiming towards a universal language drawing on human physiology, elements of perceptual psychology, psychoacoustic phenomena, the physics of sound, time, and space, and the role of music in reflecting psychological archetypes on a large scale. I have delved into these fields and have become fascinated in how to effectively integrate these subjects into my music and sound art. In particular, Alvin Lucier’s use of heterodyning, combination tones, and the utilization of resonances and sonic qualities inherent in space and physical media, Maryanne Amacher’s use of otoacoustic emission and spatialization, as well as David Tudor’s methods of deriving frequency material from various objects and using them as physical filtering mechanisms.

I am always  gaining a great deal of insight into my compositional process from visual media. The aesthetics of Bauhaus and constructivism have informed my compositional decisions, and my tape music and musique concrete have been greatly impacted by classical film theory, Eisenstein montage theory, and the use of collage and photomontage in the Zurich and Berlin Dada movements, especially the work of Hannah Hoch, whose pieces, Cut With The Kitchen Knife Through The Beer-Belly of The Weimar Republic, and her series, From An Ethnographic Museum, made a great impact on some of my musique concrete in regards to my formal and gestural approach and the way I manipulate found sounds.

While my work presents a historical dialogue while striving to push the limits of this medium, my compositional and performance practices explore social issues such as audience participation, interactivity, as well as the movement of contemporary music from the concert hall into galleries, public spaces, nontraditional independent venues, and the internet.

concert music

electronic works

other miscellaneous


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