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Danny Clay

San Francisco, CA      


Danny Clay is a composer and teaching artist from Ohio, currently based in San Francisco. His work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things. His projects often incorporate musical games, open forms, found objects, archival media, toy instruments, classrooms of elementary schoolers, graphic notation, digital errata, cross-disciplinary research, and the everything-in-between.

Recent collaborators include Kronos Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Sarah Cahill, Phyllis Chen, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, concert:nova + the Cincinnati Ballet, the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, as well as several groups in the Bay Area, including the Mobius Trio, Friction Quartet, Nonsemble 6, the Living Earth Show, New Keys, and others.

As a teaching artist specializing in composition with elementary schoolers, he has worked with Little Opera, the San Francisco Opera, 826 Valencia, Thingamajigs, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Composers and Schools in Concert (CSIC), and currently curates Project Object, a net-label of experimental music by kids.

 He also serves as a resident curator at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, sporadic host of Music from Other Minds on KALW radio, and occasional writer for I Care If You Listen blog and magazine.

playbook (excerpts)

Excerpts from the premiere of “playbook” by Third Coast Percussion on June 5, 2016 at Constellation, Chicago.

“play book” is a collection of nine sound games for standard and homemade percussion instruments. As a composer who “daylights” as an elementary school music teacher, I wanted to make a set of pieces flexible enough to function in a variety of ways – as concert music, as activities between friends, as games that students could easily learn and play in the classroom. They are rooted in the joy and curiosity of communal sound-making.

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glow iii, from ‘ganymede’

Excerpt from an album-length work for piano, music box, and sine waves on multiple prepared turntables, based on the opening bars of Schubert’s “Ganymed.”

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An immersive, perpetually evolving sound installation for any number of performers. nearly consists of an 8-note mantra and a series of 52 cards, each suggesting a way in which to perform the mantra (i.e. “nearly inaudible,” “nearly identical to someone across the room,” etc.) Performers are asked to create a sequence of cards to proceed through. During the piece, they may move through the performance space and respond to other. Similarly, the audience is invited to explore the evolving musical ecosystem by walking among the performers.

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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...

See more of Danny Clay's articles on NewMusicBox.