Borden, David

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Borden, David

Borden, David, American composer, pianist, and teacher; b. Boston, Dec. 25, 1938. After studies at Boston Univ. (1956–58), he took degrees at the Eastman School of Music (B.M., 1961; M.M., 1963) and Harvard Univ. (M.A., 1965). He also studied on a Fulbright scholarship at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin (1965–66). Upon his return to the U.S., he was composer-in-residence for the Ithaca City School District in N.Y. (1966–68), and in 1968 joined the faculty at Cornell Univ., first as a composer-pianist for dance in its dept. of physical education (1968–88), and later as a senior lecturer in its music dept. (from 1988), where he also served as director of its Digital Music Program. Among his specialty courses are MIDI techniques, counterpoint combined with electronic sequencing, and collaborative music composition using digital instruments. Borden worked closely with electronic music pioneer Robert Moog, through which he discovered new ways of using Moog’s huge modular synthesizer and four-track Scully tape recorder in performance as well as in his own compositions. Through contact with Gordon Mumma and David Tudor, a sustained interest in live electronic music emerged as well. In 1968 Borden founded Mother Mallard (initially Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co.), the first all-synthesizer performance group whose personnel initially included Borden, Steve Drews, and Bard Prentiss (a sculptor), and was later joined by Linda Fisher; Fisher was still later replaced by Judy Borsher. The group performed extensively in the succeeding decades, giving lively performances of works by such senior contemporaries as Robert Ashley, Allen Bryant, Daniel Lentz, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Jon Hassel, Morton Feldman, and John Cage. In 1974 Mother Mallard started its own recording label, Earthquack Records.


The Continuing Story of Counterpoint, Parts 1-12 for Synthesizers, Soprano, Woodwinds, and Electric Guitar (1976-87; Bowling Green, Ind., Oct. 9, 1995); Anagram Portraits for Various Ensembles (1984 et seq.); The Vermeer Variations for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord (1985); Trains for Synthesizers, Soprano, Clarinet, and Electric Guitar (1987); The Boston Elegies for Synthesizers, Woodwinds, and Electric Guitar (1988); Cayuga Night Music for Synthesizers, Sampler, Soprano Voice, and Soprano Saxophone (1988–93); Angels for Mixed Amplified Vocal Ensemble, Soprano, Tenor, and Baritone Soloists, Synthesizers, Woodwinds, and Electric Guitar (1989–90); Birthday Variations for Various Ensembles (1990 et seq.); Variations on a Theme of Philip Glass for Synthesizers, 2 Sopranos, Woodwinds, and Electric Guitar (1991); Infinity Variations 1 for Chamber Orch. (1992) and 2, Silent Stars, for 2 Fortepianos and Chamber Orch. (1994-95; Houghton, Mich., Oct. 22, 1995); Notes From Vienna for Electric Guitar and Wind Ensemble (1993-94; Ithaca, N.Y., March 12, 1994); The Perilous Night Companion for Elec-troacoustic Ensemble (1999).

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire