Michael Edward Edgerton is an award-winning, critically acclaimed American Composer, whose music has been performed all over the world. He is especially known for his work with contemporary voice and desynchronized sound production in composition. Michael is also involved with research on music that often involves the tools of voice science, acoustics and perception that has been published in scholarly journals and books.
He also works as Associate Professor of Composition at the Guangi University of the Arts in Nanning, China.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
“I listen to your recording of Prana and the voice is surprising: it sounds like an oboe. There is not European tradition there. I find interesting your work (with) common interests as continuum and voice. I like what you do and now I’m more convinced about your music writing. It seems to me several coincidences on the same interest with my work; your optics are extremely useful and interesting because they provide the acoustical and psycho-acoustical tools, both indispensable to understand what exactly happens when we deal with a multiplicity of components on which I call the macro-timbre, a fusion of rhythm and sound. … your string quartet and I like it…”
Julio Estrada, COMPOSER
“a gifted composer, he successfully, and compellingly, utilizes the fruits of his research. For instance, in the striking String Quartet #1, he deliberately focuses on the ‘origins of organized sound,’ in both physical and spiritual dimensions. This music has elements of Xenakis-like textures, melded with the sensitive acoustical manipulations of spectral composers such as Grisey, and yet sounds essentially new, not derivative. … from the awards and performances that he has accumulated, he is obviously making an impact among performers and other musicians, especially in Europe.”
Anne LeBaron, COMPOSER
2 SONATA (#86, 2012)
I sense very strongly that you are taking flute music (and thus the art of music as a whole) in a new direction, which I find admirable. There are so many new or newish pieces for flute which have what I can only describe as aeolian sound/tongue ram overload. Your piece completely sidesteps this and plunges the listener into a new world of sound.
James Erber, composer
CATAPHORA (#82, 2009)
Cataphora performance by Jan Heinke: Obertontage in Dresden 2009 – 16. September 2009
It was exciting when Jan Heinke premiered a piece of the composer Michael Edward Edgerton. Composed specially for these Overtone Days – great thanks to the Saxon Cultural Foundation – the audience was treated to an impressive, contemporary vocal solo piece, which existed beyond known singing habits. The audience reflected to this with a thunderous applause.
Jens Mügge, Overtone Music Network (http://www.overtone.cc/)
TEMPO MENTAL RAP (#72, 2006)
I received with some delay here in Salzburg your very impressive work TEMPO MENTAL RAP. This is indeed a piece I´d love to address to see if I could penetrate its mysteries …I certainly admire Mr. Östersjö for learning it…and I wish I had time in my life right now for this type of pure artistic exploration. … Your idea of taking techniques from this world (Zappa /Vai kind of cutting edge rock derived modernism) and bringing them back to the classical guitar in a way involving a very complicated rhythmic notation is extremely interesting. I … hope our paths will cross some day so that you can help me to more quickly get inside the new world you have found all on your own.
Eliot Fisk, GUITARIST. 15 NOVEMBER 2009
“Search for new styles of expression”
“The Swedish guitarist Stefan Östersjö performed the Tempo Mental Rap of the prizewinner Michael Edgerton, a highly virtuosic work. The well-known expressive possibilities and techniques of this instrument were blown up and thus new sound possibilities were developed. Hans-Peter Jahn, director of new music at SWR, had personally assisted Mr. Östersjö in performance by turning pages of the oversized musical score. The intrinsic rhythmic speech-song (of the Frank Zappa rap) remained exciting with both hands gripping, knocking, hitting and stroking until the conclusion.”
Hans-Jörg Lund. Reutlinger General-Anzeiger 29.04.08
RE: Tempo Mental Rap – Prize-winning concert of the Kompositionspreis der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart 2007, April 25, 2008.
“Eloquent gestures full of tension”
“The guitarist Stefan Östersjö whistled along the strings, whispered fleeting noise-clusters and coaxed long drawn out tones from his instrument, sometimes similar to improvised, hectic gestures at dangerously fast speeds.
The “Tempo Mental Rap” was seen to be a ghostly or disembodied piece, in which conventional musical expressions were thrown out, … Throughout the piece, innovative extensions involving sound production .. hinted at an otherworldly expression.”
Ulrich Köppen, Stuttgarter Nachtrichten 28.04.08
“Edgerton’s piece is one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging solo guitar works in the contemporary literature. The work features quite an unusual expressive range and a great variety of technical means, that include not only traditional performance techniques, such as rasgueado and strumming techniques and tapping, but also using other means to produce sustained source characteristics, such as using metal, wooden and glass objects, small fans and dishwashing pads on the strings. … Edgerton takes a Frank Zappa transcription by Steve Vai as material for variations where the outer boundaries of guitar playing are questioned and re-considered. … Edgerton’s work is truly one of the most significant and explorative works to have ever been written for the acoustic guitar. It also gives an idea of how the complexity in procedures of compositional work within modernism can be brought in dialectic relations to a great variety of different modes of expression in contemporary music on the one hand and recent research in different disciplines on the other. In addition, the Tempo Mental Rap gives a strong idea of how strategies and instrumental approaches from experimental free improvisation can be brought into play in structured composition.”
Stefan Östersjö, DIRECTOR ENSEMBLE ARS NOVA
STRING QUARTET #1 (#64, 2002)
“… Edgerton looked after performance practice and tradition of the string quartet, with only a few pauses were intricate figurations with new means of articulation reorganized – such as finely differentiated rules for bow angle and the intensity of the finger pressure. After the first movement I was curious to see how Edgerton applies the findings of his research when referencing Giacinto Scelsi (third movement) and Helmut Lachenmann (fifth Movement). ” (translated by M. Edgerton)
SÜDWESTPRESSE ROTTENBURGER POST, 6 APRIL 2004
“… Edgerton, in his 1 Stringquartet writes a complex music that one can either simply intuitively understand, or can parse out a deeper understanding from the composers’ instructions. … is a recent heir to a venerable tradition, in which the last word has not yet been spoken.”
Michael Eidenbenz, RADIOMAGAZIN 25/2004 (SWIZERLAND, JUNE 2004)
(translated by M. Edgerton)
“… Edgerton’s Quartet #1 … virtuosic special effects and calculated dramaturgy.”
Walter M. Grimmel, NEUE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR MUSIK 3 – MAI/JUNI 2004
(translated by M. Edgerton)
Michael Edgerton: Streichquartett Nr. 1,1. Satz (2002)” … The many-layered nuanced colors of the string sound may possibly be associated with the diffusion of light through a prism, to awaken the impression of the existence of a larger string ensemble.”
Christoph Sramek, 4. SENDE(R)MUSIK; NEUE MUSIK IM MDR-STUDIO; LEIPZIG–MDR-STUDIO AM AUGUSTUSPLATZ; 11 MAY 2004
(translated by M. Edgerton)
ANAPHORA (#62, 2001)
Regarding the performance of Anaphora by Almut Kühne in the Leonhardi-Museum Dresden aus: “Licht-Risse” 2011.04.29 in the ProgrammeTexte by Olaf Katzer, Artistic Director, AUDITIVVOKAL DRESDEN (translated by M. Edgerton)
Forty years after Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza” the American composer Michael Edward Edgerton has illuminated in his study “Anaphora” the expressive potential of the human voice. A kaleidoscope of 56 different categories of vocal multiphonics shows the wealth that the human carries in vocal expression. It pays to listen closely because simply there are many never heard before sound landscapes, in which multiphonic and polyphonic sound cosmos appears, although they are given by only one woman. These sounds are based neither on witchcraft, nor cast by a mystical spell, but are the result of scientifically based research in the field of voice, made by the composer himself and in his book “The 21st Century Voice”.
Since the publication of his book “The 21st Century Voice” (2004), the American composer Michael Edgerton has become one of the leading experts in the search for the expressive possibilities of contemporary voice. No other composer has so systematically and unconditionally applied a compositional approach to every possibility of the human voice. “Anaphora” is at the same time a sound study, in which is presented his research on 56 different classes of vocal multiphonics, opening up a new sound universe. In this system, Edgerton categorizes multiphonics in three large tone and noise groups: voiced-voiced, voiced-unvoiced and unvoiced-unvoiced (with further amendments).
Within the auspices of the program “Licht Risse” Michael Edward Edgerton gave a well-attended public workshop held in the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber Dresden, regarding his research and inspiring insights of voice. Almut Kühne Is only the world’s third singer to overcome the enormous difficulties in the execution of “Anaphora”.
Paul Renan Zelezniak
This unaccompanied solo utilises hitherto untapped resources of the human voice. In achieving this, the central concern in this work was, in the words of the composer,” to maintain a sense of coherence that would carry through the procedure of kaleidoscopic change”. In addition, Edgerton refers to the “convention of repetition at phrase inception” employed by Shakespeare in Richard II.This not only comprises the constant variation of a single germinal idea (in this case the gamut of emotions expressed by John of Gaunt for the England he loved) but the dramatic effect of repetition itself. Silence between the repetitions functions as the space in which the sound lives.Thus, rather than segregating the repetitions, the pauses maintain a subtle and cohesive impetus throughout.The innate pathos of the work seems to derive from the archaic symbols that embody primal emotions that are integral to the piece.A high degree of intensity is generated, often where dynamics are quieter.The listener is compelled to look inward, to respond rather than to project, and to become aware of the multiplicity of events that occur within a single sound.
Regarding the performance of Anaphora by Almut Kühne in Hellerau (Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden) aus: “Wohlfühlabend mit Musik” 2011.04.01 in Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten by Alexander Keuk
“Modern compositions were given by Jürg Wyttenbach, Georges Aperghis and Paul Barker, which featured a sharp transition between the excerpts from Josquin’s Missa da Pacem to Aperghis “Jactation No. 2” – however, in terms of composition, a connection was revealed that lay far beyond the ages. While these three pieces revealed a more playful approach to dealing with the voice, a two-part performance of Michael Edward Edgerton’s “Anaphora” for soprano solo burst over, in every respect, the borders of our experience.
Edgerton meticulous vocal acrobatics was performed by Almut Kuehne with full risk, yet tense calm, so that there was in the audience breathless silence…”
DIVERGENCE (#61, 2001)
“Divergence by Michael Edwards Edgerton followed and this was performed by Stephanie Aston and Argenta Walther. High, bird-like sounds mingled with a low rumbling from the electronics and this soon took on a more frighteningly aggressive character reminiscent of the distant howling of wolves. This increased in savagery as well as loudness, with scratching and baying that gradually morphed into a series of pure pitches that increased in frequency – like a spaceship taking off. These were the result of a weather simulation applied to electronic sounds, a process that allows, according to the program notes, “miniscule irregularities in the initial conditions [to] become responsible for potentially large changes over time.” Low, raspy moaning was added and this made a nice organic contrast with the sterile sine waves. Towards the end, the relatively benign tones in the electronics became a series of explosions, as if some battle was occurring. Divergence is an evocative metamorphosis in sound between earthly, natural elements and remote cerebral coolness.”)
Review at Sequenza21 after the performance of “Divergence” by Argenta Walther & Stephanie Aston of the the contemporary vocal chamber ensemble Accordant Commons, presented by People Inside Electronics in concert at the Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, California on 2015_11-21
APPOSTE MESSE (#36, 1997)
“Artists in the 20th Century became interested not only in color itself as a means of expression, free from the representational, but also in the actual physical process of painting. Composers of music also became interested not only in the new forms having little or nothing to do with the traditional forms of sonata, rondo, etc., but also in the actual physical process of making music. Michael Edgerton, for example, became very interested in the in-between steps of this process, the stages in which the pipe does not speak to its fullest potential, and worked with these stages expressively, in other words formed these processes into a musical into a musical statement. This interest was one of two which contributed to the making of this piece.
The title refers to a piece by Lorenzo da Firenze for two voices in canon to a text which is concerned with the hunt, a caccia. Intense caccia composition took place for a period of about 40 years, ca 1340-1380, and is a type of composition which forms a striking contrast to the idyllic madrigals being composed about the same time. Firenze composed his piece ca. 1370 The caccia music is quoted by Edgerton, but mostly in a manner which only allows us to intimate the source, not recognize it outright. Both interests/influences complement and fructify each other to the extent that they give up their own single identities and become, actually generate, something else: Apposte Messe: Caccia.”
(Professor Gary Verkade re: Apposte Messe for the premiere performance)
“Dr. Edgerton is one of the most dedicated, knowledgeable, and inquiring contemporary musicians I have come to know. He is a composer of originality. I have played his Apposte Messe: Caccia for organ, premiered it at Carthage in October of 1998. It is a composition which engenders thought about organ composition and organ performance, what it means to use the instrument organ as a vehicle for compositional thought. The timbral innovations, the rhythmic complexity, and the use of previous material (a Renaissance caccia) necessitated on my part a re-thinking of both playing technique and philosophical attitude towards the instrument and its literature.
Gary Verkade, ORGANIST & COMPOSER.
EDGERTON AS PERFORMER
Mike Edgerton’s extended-vocal performance is a tour-de-force: it has the mayhem of contemporary improvisers and performance artists, the shapely beauty of polyphonic traditions from Sardinia to Tuva, and the decay of a smoker’s wheeze all at once. His interpretation of the Ursonata is not to be missed.
BloodSugarBreath” is a rare form of composing and performing. The notions of music composing are challenged by his work. It is a special way of experimental music that will involve body and finest voice skills. His work will be accompanied by several pieces of video made for this performance, by Márcio Carvalho.