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Glenn Branca

From Academic Kids

Glenn Branca is an avant-garde composer and guitarist.

In the early 1970s, Branca began experimenting with sound as the founder of an experimental theater group in Boston called Bastard Theater. He moved to New York in 1976, and his early music was performed in No Wave bands of the late 1970s, namely The Static and Theoretical Girls. He also performed Rhys Chatham's Guitar Trio in 1977, an experience that was very important in the development of his compositional voice (Branca 1979).

In the early 1980s, he composed several medium-length compositions for electric guitar ensembles, including The Ascension (1981) and Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses (1981). He soon thereafter began composing symphonies for orchestras of electric guitars and percussion, which blended droning industrial cacophany and microtonality with quasi-mysticism and advanced mathematics. Starting with Symphony No. 3 ("Gloria") (1983), he began to systematically compose for the harmonic series, which he considered to be the structure underlying not only all music but most human endeavors. In this project, Branca was initially influenced by the writings of Dane Rudhyar, Hermann von Helmholtz, and Harry Partch. He also built several electrically amplified instruments of his own invention, expanding his ensemble beyond the guitar. Early members of his group included Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Page Hamilton of Helmet, and several members of Swans.

Beginning with Symphony No. 7, Branca began composing for traditional orchestra (although he never abandoned the electric guitar). Branca also plays duets for excessively amplified guitars with his wife, and conducted his 13th symphony for 100 electric guitars at the base of the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001. He recently finished his 14th symphony, which he has performed in France, Belgium, Germany, and in the US with a quartet that includes his wife Regina Bloor on guitar, Tony Cenicola on drums, and Ryan Walsh on bass guitar. More information on his music can be found on his webpage below.

Branca's music has finally begun to receive academic attention. Some scholars, most prominently Kyle Gann, consider him (and Chatham) to be a member of the totalist school of post-minimalism.

External links

  • GlennBranca.com (http://www.glennbranca.com)
  • EST Interview (http://media.hyperreal.org/zines/est/intervs/branca.html) by and (c) Brian Duguid.

Listening

References

  • Branca, Glenn (November 1979). New New York: Rhys Chatham. New York Rocker, 16.
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