Tenney, James (Carl)

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Tenney, James (Carl)

Tenney, James (Carl), highly influential American pianist, conductor, teacher, and composer; b. Silver City, N.Mex., Aug. 10, 1934. He studied engineering at the Univ. of Denver (1952-54) before devoting himself to music; received instruction in piano from Steuermann at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (1954-55), took courses in piano and composition at Bennington (Vt.) Coll. (B.A., 1958), and worked with Gaburo, Hiller, and Partch at the Univ. of 111. (M.Mus., 1961); was also associated with Chou Wen-chung, Ruggles, and Várese (1955-65). He was co-founder of the Tone Roads Chamber Ensemble in N.Y. (1963-70) and was active as a performer with the Steve Reich and Philip Glass ensembles; concurrently conducted research at the Bell Laboratories (with Max Matthews; 1961-64), Yale Univ. (1964-66), and the Polytechnic Inst. of Brooklyn (1966-70). He taught at the Calif. Inst. of the Arts (1970-75), the Univ. of Calif, at Santa Cruz (1975-76), and York Univ. in Toronto (from 1976). As both a performer and a scholar, he is a prominent advocate of contemporary music; is also a notable authority on Ives and Nancarrow. A pioneer in the field of computer music, he is currently engaged in computer-assisted research on various aspects of musical perception. He publ. A History of Consonance and Dissonance (N.Y., 1988).


orch: Essay for Chamber Orch. (1957); Quiet Fan for Erik Satie (1970); Clang (Los Angeles, June 1, 1972); Chorales (Valencia, Calif., May 4, 1974). CHAMBER: Seeds for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Violin, and Cello (Bennington, Vt., Aug. 25, 1956; rev. 1962); Sonata for 10 Wind Instruments (1958; rev. 1983); Monody for Clarinet (1959); Stochastic[String] Quartet (Los Angeles, Feb. 1, 1963); String Complement for Strings (1964); Quintext I-V: Five Textures for String Quartet and Double Bass (1972; Valencia, Calif., May 27, 1973); In the Aeolian Mode for Prepared Piano and Variable Ensemble (1973); 3 Pieces for Drum Quartet (1974-75; Santa Cruz, Calif., Aug. 19, 1976); Harmonía Nos. 1 to 6 for Various Ensembles (1976-81); Saxony for 1 or More Saxophones and Tape Delay (Toronto, April 30, 1978); Three Rags for Strings (1978; also for Piano, 1969); 3 Indigenous Songs for 2 Piccolos, Alto Flute, Tuba or Bassoon, and 2 Percussion (Toronto, Feb. 2, 1979); Septet for 6 Electric Guitars and Double Bass (1981); Glissade for Viola, Cello, Double Bass, and Tape Delay (Toronto, April 30, 1982); Koan for String Quartet (1984; Aspen, Aug. 20, 1985); Water on the mountain... Fire in heaven for 6 Electric Guitars (1985); Changes: 64 Studies for 6 Harps (Toronto, Dec. 15, 1985); Critical Band for Variable Ensemble (Miami, Dec. 8, 1988); Rune for Percussion Quintet (Toronto, Nov. 26, 1988); Tableaux Vivants for Soprano, Violin, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone/Baritone Saxophone, Piano, and Percussion (Montreal, Nov. 6, 1990); Cognate Canons for String Quartet and 2 Percussionists (1995). KEYBOARD: Music for Player- Piano (1964); Three Rags for Pianoforte (1969; also for Strings, 1978); Spectral CANON for CON-LON Nancarrow for Player Piano (1974); Bridge for 2 Microtonal Pianos, 8-Hands (Hartford, Conn., May 7, 1984); The Road to Ubud for Gamelan and Prepared Piano (1986; Toronto, April 5, 1987). COMPUTER, TAPE, ELECTROACOUSTIC: Collage #1: Blue Suede for Tape (1961); Analog #1: Noise Study for Computer (1961); Stochastic Quartet: String Quartet for Computer or Strings (1963); Dialogue for Computer (1963); Ergodos I (1963) and II (1964) for Computer; Phases for Computer (1963); Fabric for Che for Computer (1967); For Ann (rising) for Computer (N.Y., May 23, 1969). VOCAL: 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird for Bass, Alto, Flute, Oboe, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass, after Wallace Stevens (1958; rev. 1971); Voice(s) for Women’s Voice(s), Instrumental Ensemble, and Multiple Tape Delay (1982). OTHER: Theater works.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Tenney, James (Carl)

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