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About Ian

I am a musician and researcher interested in improvisation, collaborative performance, and digital instruments.  I compose and perform music based on live sampling and digital signal processing, and create interactive artwork and digital musical instruments. My research is in the development of mapping strategies and digital musical instruments for collaborative performance. I hold an MFA from the Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program at UC Irvine, and work at the Input Device and Music Interaction Laboratory at McGill University as a PhD researcher.

I tend to view the expressive potential of technology as being one of the defining characteristics of our age.  We are fortunate that there are lots of ways this can manifest itself, whether through hardware or software, or just through information processing concepts.  In my own work, this can be seen in projects like guitamaton, decay: ruin and my work with Insidium, and my chamber music pieces.

As a jazz musician, you learn to balance individual self-expression and ensemble playing.  For many musicians, being part of an ensemble quickly becomes being part of a community.  This has been very true for me – most of my best friends are the people with whom I make music.  Recently, I’ve begun to take a broader view of this concept, and to think of art and technology as ways of fostering communication.  Talking Bowls came out of this thought process, making explicit in the work the idea of listening and conversing.  As an improvising musician you learn that you depend on the voices around you to make your improvising meaningful – can that be less true of our interaction with our community?



I received a BM in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in Jazz Composition.  While at USC, I studied with Vince Mendoza, Shelly Berg, Milcho Leviev, and Bruce Eskovitz.

After graduating from USC I spent several years performing acoustic jazz in Los Angeles, including a long residency at the Money Tree in Toluca Lake.  Gradually, I became interested in the new sounds of electronic music, and ultimately made the decision to focus on contemporary music, forming the bands Tanj and Insidium and developing different performance systems which would allow me a wide range of timbre.  At the same time, I was rediscovering the acoustic guitar, and began working with my good friend John Graves, which ultimately led to the recording of Handwritten.

The journey into electronic music piqued my interest in technology, and subsequently I spent time working with analog electronics, computer music programming, and most recently, instrument building.  Much of the equipment I use in performance and in my installations is custom built.

While in Los Angeles, I gradually built a teaching practice of individual students; I found this so rewarding that I began to consider teaching on a bigger scale and decided to go back to grad school to both continue to explore technology as well as to consider teaching in classroom settings.  I just finished my first year as an MFA student at UC Irvine, and have immensely enjoyed working with the ICIT faculty and students, as well as the guys at the ACE program.  Guitamaton, Talking Bowls, decay: ruin, the golden age, digital studies, ASCII Sampler, and  dance for nikola are all products of this first year.