Tone, Yasunao, Japanese multimedia artist and experimental composer; b. Tokyo, March 31, 1935. He graduated with a degree in literature from the Japanese National Univ. in Chiba (1957), then studied at the Tokyo Univ. of Arts, where he co-founded the group Ongaku, dedicated to “event music.” In 1962 he joined the American modern movement FLUXUS, which presented his first works in a Tokyo program under the title “One Man Show by a Composer”; also joined other modernistic groups that encompassed experimental happenings. His tape pieces Days, Number, and Clapping Piece won special prizes in the 1964 Nova Consonanza Festival in Rome. He further wrote works for theater and dance scenarios, among them 4 for the Mercé Cunningham Dance Co., of which Geography and Music became one of the company’s most popular productions under the title Roadrunners (1979). He publ. a book of collected essays, Gendai Bijutsu no Iso (Can Art Be Thought; 1970), and pursued his multiplicity of artistic interests as an ed. for the leading Japanese art magazine, the Bijutsu Shihyo. In 1972 he settled in N.Y. while continuing to travel widely as a guest of several New Wave music events. Beginning in 1976, Tone produced musical compositions as compounds of cultural studies, using visual materials compiled in combination with ancient oriental texts and electronic sounds. He contributed numerous works to ultramodern media groups, among them Dinner Happening (1962), Miniature Restaurant (1963), Metropolitan Scavening Movement (1964), Dance Concert with 2 Titles (1966), Intermedia Art Festival (1969), Multi Performance (1972), Voice and Phenomenon (1976), The Wall and the Books (1982), and Word of Mouth (1988). From 1979 he received a steady stream of commissions for multimedia works; received a N.Y. Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (1987; performance art/emergent forms). He has been a regular participant in festivals of avant-garde art, including the Annual Avant-Garde Festival (1973-77; 1980), FLUXUS festivals (1975, 1979, 1984, 1987), Dharma Music Festival (1985), Pioneer Performance Artists (1985), Japon des Avantgardes (1986), Miami New Wave Media Festival (1988), Venice Biennale (1990), and the 2nd Acoustic International Festival (1990).
dramatic: Anti-Dance and Anti-Music (1961); Ki and Waranin (for Kaoni Kawana; 1962); Kimigayo Electronic and Dictionary Music (for Yoshie Aotsu and Mika Suzuki; 1963); Theater Piece for Computer (1966); Kin no Sai Sarushima Dairi, electronic music for a Kabuki play (1968); Clockwork Video (for the Mercé Cunningham Dance Co. as Events #82 and #83; 1973); Theatrum Philosophicum (for the Mercé Cunningham Dance Co. as Events #151 and #152; 1975); Genealogy, Music (for the Mercé Cunningham Dance Co. as Event #201; 1978); Geography and Music (for the Mercé Cunningham Dance Co. as Roadrunners; 1979); Blind Dates (for Blondel Cummings and Senga Nengudi; 1982); Personal Documents (for Susana Heyman-Chaffey; 1984); Caught in the Fringe (for Nancy Zendora; 1985); Econologos (with Nancy Zendora and Barbara Held; 1986); Techno Eden (for Kay Nishikawa; 1986); Setsubun, Day of Chance (1990; in collaboration with A. Knowles); Spectaclum Lyrictronica,“anarchic flight in paramedia space” (1990; in collaboration with B. Held). INSTRUMENTAL: Improvisation and Object Sonore (Ongaku collaboration; 1961); Piano sound with magnetic tape (1962); Tone Work (1963); Mono Tone (1963); Ready-made Prohibition (1965); Kinegraphia (1967); 815 Catch passage (1968); A 2nd Music (1972); One day Wittgenstein...(1973); Communication with Mr.(1974); Geodesy for Harpsichord (1975); Harpsichord for 50 Fingers (1975); Voice and phenomenon (1976); Fruits for towers (1977); Trio for a flute player (1985); Piano for Taoists (1985); Aletheia (1987); Lyrictron for Flute (1988); What is left from a Rembrandt...(1989), OTHER: Tape pieces, including TV. is a chewing gum for eyes (1969), This is not a condom (for Vernita Nemec; 1984), and Music for 2 CD. Players (1986; rev. 1989); graphic scores, including Music for Reed Organ (1962); film scores, including An event for film projector (for Taka Imura; 1962) and Gingakei...Galaxy (for Masao Adachi; 1967).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire