Cone of Confusion
December 18, 1992
Enclosed is a tape of diverse works composed and performed by members of Cone of Confusion, a five-member electro-acoustic new music ensemble. Our music is characterized by unusual timbres, lush textures, dense microtonal layering, and musical collage. Our sound palette spans the electronic, acoustic, and "found sound" domains, and blurs the boundaries of established genres.
Though our music has a definite experimental edge, much of it has kind of a dreamy and leisurely quality -- distinct, perhaps, from much free improv or technically oriented music. We perform both stylistically varied improvisational structures and composed pieces. Some of our music uses interactive software; recent innovations here include synthesized sound triggered by the gestures of a "power glove" and a sonar detection system that produces music in response to the movements of performers or dancers.
The members of the group come from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds in Brazil, Greece, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and began collaborating several years ago as graduate students at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in Oakland. Our collective training and performance experience includes western classical music, post-1950 avant-garde music, free improvisation, jazz, musique concrete, interactive computer music, and music from Africa, India, and Indonesia.
The group has performed at Mills College, at the Notoriously New Music series in Berkeley, and most recently, in April 1992, at the Oakland Museum, as part of the natural sound series produced by the Oakland Museum and Nature Sound Society. Our members have presented their works locally at The Lab, New Langton Arts, Olive's, the 7th Species composer's collective concerts in the East Bay, the Oakland Museum, and KPFA and KALX radio stations.
Cone of Confusion is planning to perform several times this coming year in the Bay Area, starting with a concert on February 24th at the Berkeley Store Gallery. The enclosed cassette contains nine pieces indicating the range of our music. All were recorded live except Coro de Bichos and the Rushlight excerpt, which are included because they suggest new currents in the group's sound. We hope, of course, that something here might interest you for inclusion in a broadcast. More detailed and technical information about Cone's members and their musical interests is also enclosed. Thanks very much. Sincerely, Jim Alexander (signature)
Thomas Miley received a B.A. in piano and composition from the American Conservatory of Music, in Chicago. He then studied at Chicago Musical College and Mills College, in California, where he received an M.A. in music composition and the Elizabeth Mills Struthers prize for composition in 1989. He has performed with Chin Hi Kim and Anthony Braxton, and has performed his own music at New Langton Arts, The Lab, and Olive's in San Francisco, as well as Mills College and the Oakland Museum. He has written dance music for Marla Carlson and film music for Isabelle Neyret.
His recent tape and live electronic pieces employ multiple microtunings modeled on 3-dimensional mathematical objects. The shifting timbres and non-metrical rhythms of his pieces are also geometrically informed. He has recently developed alternative, choreographic methods for controlling the sonic and structural components of his compositions using a "power glove" that interfaces with a computer and a sonar device which translates the movements and spatial relations of dancers into music.
Silvia Alves Mattheus is a composer, pianist, and visual artist from Sao Paulo, Brazil. She graduated from Academia Paulista de Musica in Sao Paulo in 1980, where she studied composition with Hans J. Koellreutter and Mario Ficarelli. She was a performer in the Latin American Music Festivals in Petropolis and Belo Horizonte. She then came to the USA and studied composition and with Larry Polansky and David Rosenboom at Mills College, where she received an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media in 1986. She was sound designer and technician for Foote Loose theater company's production of Cactus, and lighting and set designer for Kathryn Lyle's opera planet Dog and for Marla Carson's multimedia works.
She has collaborated with glass artist Thomas Tisch and electrical engineer Andrew Listwan to produce electronic music sculptures. In 1988, at the Lab, in San Francisco, she performed her own music on one such sculpture. other 3-dimensional glass scores were subsequently exhibited at the DNC Exhibition Space in New York City. Her piece Interhythm has been aired on KPFA.
Recently Silvia studied computer music with David Wessel at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at UC Berkeley. In her recent computer and synthesizer work she combines programmed rhythmic and timbral modules with pattern recognition to create real-time, improvised pieces.
Richard A Devereaux is a composer and keyboardist from Philadelphia. He studied jazz piano with Kenny Barron and performed at a jazz pianist and new music improviser around Philadelphia and New York during the early 80s. In 1985 he was musical director for a multi-arts project in Philadelphia called ACME INC, which was part of the Art in the Market Place series sponsored by the Rouse Corporation. Between 1985 and 1986 he was an instructor in music theory at Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and at the Stanton School for Performing Arts. He received his B.A. in music composition from Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts in 1986.
In 1986 Rick moved to California to attend California Institute of the Arts, and eventually received an M.A. in composition from Mills College. His composition teachers include Brian Ferneyhough, Stephen Mosko, Peter Otto, Arturo Salinas, and David Rosenboom. In 1988 he was a coordinator of Newer Music America, a low-budget new music series in Miami, where he debued his piece Lo-tech Text Collage. His music was performed in the Living Room concert series in Los Angeles in 1990.
He has recently worked as a dance accompanist, a computer instructor for children in various Bay Area schools, and a music theory teacher at Santa Clara University. Rick's compositional interest have recently gravitated toward large-scale, conceptual, multimedia forms, that use both acoustic and electronic material.
His work Rushlight, presented at Mills College in 1990, used dancers, chorus, instrumentalists surrounding the audience, and a tape of digitally processed sampled sound. He has developed a graphical notation system for use with modular structures that are 'composed' in real-time by the conductor. Rick has been interviewed and had his music aired on WPHL in Philadelphia and KALX in Berkeley.
Jim Alexander is a composer, cellist, guitarist, editor, and technical writer. He has a very broad musical background, including classical, jazz, bluegrass, and Afro-Cuban drumming. He recently received an M.A. in music composition at Mills College and was awarded the Paul Merrit Henry composition prize. He has written both electronic and acoustic music and has a special interest in traditional music of America and nonwestern cultures. His recent choral and string quartet music are concerned with texture, collage, and microtonality, and use musical forms and playing techniques from India and Africa and other cultures around the world.
The quartets Face to Face and Skywave Interference have been performed and are soon to be recorded by the Magellan Quartet. Larry Polansky calls Face to Face "a forward-looking piece that should push the string quartet literature to a necessary next stage." His tape pieces of processed animals and insect sounds have been presented at the 7th Species concert series in the East Bay in 1991 and the Oakland Museum's New Music with Birds, Frogs, and Other Creatures concert series in 1992. He was featured composer and contemporary music coach at the annual Chamber Music Seminar at San Diego State in 1991.
In Cone of Confusion he plays electronically processed cello and other acoustic instruments. His compositions for the group tend to be spatially oriented collages that use quotations and distortions of acoustic and found sounds.
Andreas Mniestris is a saxophonist, composer, and audio technician who came to music originally through folk and popular music in Greece. After receiving a B.A. in physics at Thessaloniki University in 1979 he moved to France, where he studied musique concrete with Luc Farari and acoustics at the GRM studios. His instrument became the recording studio, where he made many pieces for tape from manipulations of natural and acoustic sounds. His piece Trane, which has been broadcast over KPFA, is made from many layers of a few seconds of a Coltrane solo.
He came to Mills College in Oakland in 1988 to study computer music at the Center for Contemporary Music and saxophone with Anthony Braxton. His work at Mills concerned spatial location as an active musical parameter in electro-acoustic music. For his elaborate narrative in found and processed sounds Apprenticeship Seeking, he used 17 speakers of various kinds and sizes dispersed throughout as auditorium. With this multispeaker spatialization system he was able to carefully control the quality and location of sound throughout the piece. After obtaining his M.F.A. in Electronic Music and recording Media from Mills, Andreas engineered a CD of a Robert Ashley opera, and was granted and internship in studio engineering at the Banff Festival of the Arts. He currently makes his living playing saxophone.
Typed by Cheryl Vega 5-18-95