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Jim Dalton

Salem, MA

James Dalton is a composer, performer, music theorist, and educator. He studied composition with Louie White, George Walker, Neely Bruce, Robert Dickow and Dan Bukvich; and guitar with Michael Newman and John Abercrombie.

Dalton’s compositions have been performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe by Idaho Brass, Providence Mandolin Orchestra, Enigmatica, Toronto Camerata, Ensemble Decadanse, Transient Canvas, Scottish Voices, Paul Ayres, Aaron Larget-Caplan, Carson Cooman, Alex Lubet, Stephen Altoft, Marti Epstein, and Sharan Leventhal at the Kansas Symposium of New Music, Musiques Nouvelles (Lunel, France), Sound: the Scottish Festival of New Music (Aberdeen, Scotland), EUROMicroFest, and Akademie fúr Tonkunst, Darmstadt. In 1997, he won first prize in the Toronto Camerata Competition. His compositions for carillon have been included in two anthologies, The Albany Carillon Book and Carillon 2002 and his compositions have been recorded by organist Carson Cooman, the New England Mandolin Ensemble, and Enigmatica.



Much of Dalton’s recent music has utilized just intonation and microtonality including Contemplating Duality, (for 12EDO marimba and Bohlen-Pierce clarinet) premiered by Transient Canvas, in Cambridge, MA (2013); Morning Fanfare of the Black-capped Chickadees of Essex County, (for 19EDO trumpet) premiered by Stephen Altoft at Akademie fúr Tonkunst, Darmstadt, Germany, (2015); a set of duos for two violins in extended just intonation commissioned by Sharan Leventhal, the first two of which were premiered by Leventhal and Dillon Robb, Boston (2015/16); and The Untempered Guitar, a set of guitar solos in just intonation.

Dalton performs on guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other plucked string instruments with soprano Maggi Smith-Dalton, specializing in historically informed performance of 19th and 20th century American music. They have released four recordings. He performs freelance in orchestral, chamber music, and theater/opera pit orchestra settings and actively participates in the Boston New Music scene as a guitarist, mandolinist, and on other plucked instruments.

As a music theorist, Dalton’s interests and research have ranged from palindromes and symmetrical musical structures to just intonation and microtonality. He has presented at conferences in the U.S. and abroad including the Northeast Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Society for American Music, the Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization, and Beyond the Semitone (Aberdeen, Scotland).

He has published articles (mostly on American music) in the Salem Gazette, Boston Globe, and The Arts Fuse. He contributed to Music in American Life (ABC-CLIO) and a forthcoming book on the early banjo.

Dalton has been on the music theory faculty at the Boston Conservatory since 2000.

Epigram for Archytas

for solo slide guitar (in just intonation)

performed by Jim Dalton

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Sestina for G.F.H.

for solo organ

performed by Carson Cooman

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A World of Your Own

a guitar solo written for Aaron Larget-Caplan’s New Lullaby Project.

Performed by Aaron Larget-Caplan

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