Gann, Kyle (Eugene)

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Gann, Kyle (Eugene)

Gann, Kyle (Eugene), American music critic and composer; b. Dallas, Nov. 21, 1955. His mother was a piano teacher and his first teacher. He studied formally with Randolph Coleman at the Oberlin (Ohio) Coll. Cons, of Music (B.Mus., 1977) and with Peter Gena at Northwestern Univ. (M.Mus., 1981; D.Mus., 1983); also privately with Ben Johnston and Morton Feldman. He began writing freelance music criticism for a variety of Chicago newspapers, and in 1986 joined the staff of the Village Voice in N.Y., where he became especially well known as a provocative and insightful reviewer of contemporary music. In 1997 he joined the faculty at Bard Coll. His compositions are written in a postminimalist style, although with a complex rhythmic idiom derived from his study of Hopi and Zuni musics. In the 1990s he turned to synthesizers and computers in order to explore just intonation pitch systems of up to 31 and more pitches per octave; the pitch, rhythm, and ethnomusicological interests collided in a one-man electronic opera, Custer and Sitting Bull (1998–99), based on historical texts. Acoustic works such as Astrological Studies (1994) and Time Does Not Exist (2000) draw on his interests in Renaissance occultism and Jungian psychology. Several interviews in Mexico City with the reclusive expatriate composer Conlon Nancarrow resulted in the publication of his The Music of Conlon Nancarrow (Cambridge, 1995). He also published an extremely useful history, American Music in the Twentieth Century (N.Y., 1997), as well as a collection of his reviews from the Village Voice (Los Angeles and Berkeley, 2001).


ORCH The Disappearance of All Holy Things From This Once So Promising World for Orch. (1998). CHAMBER: Long Night for 3 Pianos (1981); Mountain Spirit for 2 Flutes, Synthesizer, and 2 Drums (1982–83); Baptism for 2 Flutes, Synthesizer, and 2 Drums (1983); The Black Hills Belong to the Sioux for Trumpet or Saxophone, Accordion or Synthesizer, Flute, and Drum (1984); L’itoi Variations for 2 Pianos (1985); Cyclic Aphorisms for Violin and Piano (1986–88); Chicago Spiral for Octet (1991); Snake Dance No. 1 (1991) and No. 2 (1995) for Percussion Quartet; Astrological Studies for Octet (1994); ”Last Chance” Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1999). Piano : Windows to Infinity (A Meditation on Nietzsche)for Piano (1987); Paris Intermezzo for Toy Piano (1989); The Convent at Tepoztlan (Homage to Nancarrow) for Piano and Tape or 2 Pianos (1989); Desert Sonata for Piano (1994–95); Time Does Not Exist for Piano (2000). ELECTRONIC : Superparticular Woman for Synthesizer (1992); Ghost Town for Synthesizer and Sampler (1994); So Many Little Dyings for Keyboard Sampler (1994); Homage to Cowell for Keyboard Sampler (1994); Fractured Paradise for Synthesizer and Tape (1995); How Miraculous Things Happen for Synthesizer and Tape (1997); Despotic Waltz for Computerized Piano (1997); The Waiting for Computerized Piano (1997); Arcana XVI: Homage to Joan Tower for 3 Synthesizers (1998); Custer and Sitting Bull for Narrator and Computer Electronics (1998–99); Nude Rolling Down an Escalator for Computerized Piano (1999); Folk Dance for Henry Cowell for Computerized Piano (1999).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire