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Danny Clay

San Francisco, CA      

Danny Clay is a composer whose work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things with people of all ages and levels of artistic experience.

​Working closely with artists, students, and community members alike, he builds worlds of inquiry, play, and perpetual discovery that integrate elements of sound, movement, theater, and visual design. Children’s games, speculative systems, cognitive puzzles, invented notation, found objects, imaginary archives, repurposed media, micro-improvisations, and happy accidents all make frequent appearances in his projects.

​Recent collaborators include Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Volti,  the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Wu Man, Sarah Cahill, Phyllis Chen, and printmaker Jon Fischer. His work has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP), Ensemble Dal Niente, and has been presented by the deYoung Museum, San Francisco Performances, the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts at the Minnesota Street Project, the Grey Area Foundation for the Arts, the Meaney Center for the Arts in Seattle, and university programs throughout the United States.

Richmond Playbook

Excerpts from a three-week residency with Eighth Blackbird at the University of Richmond. Using Danny’s “Playbook” games, the group worked with college students and teachers alike to develop original sound and movement pieces, culminating in an afternoon-length Day of Play featuring performances by Eighth Blackbird, Gamelan Raga Kusuma, and University of Richmond students.

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Threads: A Video Sketchbook

As a composer and educator interested in unpacking new relationships between sound, sight, language, and movement, I tasked myself with making a 1-minute video exploring a new concept every day for a month. Drawing on personal material as well as sounds and ideas from my 2nd and 3rd grade students, the result is a collection that is part-etude, part-diary.

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27 Overtures (after Ludwig Van Beethoven)

A group of 3rd graders from San Francisco, CA listened to the opening bars of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge,Op. 133 and created their own graphic scores to what they heard. A collection of these fantastic notations – ranging from arrows to squiggles to dinosaurs – was then given to Friction Quartet to perform. Here is their realization accompanied by the original scores.

Composed by Ms. Closek’s 3rd Grade Class
Arranged by Danny Clay
Realized by Friction Quartet

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles December 8 2017 | By Danny Clay
The Art of Play

“How can I make the act of creating new art feel less like work and more like PLAY?” Danny Clay has been asking this question of himself and others to...