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John Supko

Durham, NC            

Called “spellbindingly beautiful” (Steve Smith, Time Out New York), “hypnotic…eerily beautiful” (Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times), and “fascinating” (Philip Clark, The Guardian), the work of composer John Supko (b. 1980, NY) explores intersections: chance and intention; traditional music notation and real-time score generation; sound and spoken text; installation and performance; human and computer creativity. In recent years, Supko has been developing generative software to navigate his vast archives of field recordings, sampled acoustic and digital instruments, noise, and voice recordings. He uses this software to find unexpected compositional possibilities as well as to create dynamic sonic environments that are integrated into live performance with human musicians. Supko has also been experimenting with new forms of documentation for his music. Works such as A Free Invention for George Pitcher exist solely as software that ‘performs’ a new version of itself each time it is activated. He is a recipient of the Fulbright (2002) and Georges Lurcy (2007) fellowships, both for Paris, France, where he studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique. He has won numerous prizes and grants, among them the BMI Student Composer Award, two ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composers Awards (including the 2008 Leo Kaplan Award), the Grand Prize of the National Young Composers Competition, the Perkins Prize of the Princeton University Music Department and a Commissioning Music/USA Meet the Composer commission. His work has been published in collaborative editions with the poet Philippe Denis by Collection Mémoires (Paris) and by Harpo & (Marseille), and has been released on the New Amsterdam and Cotton Goods labels. Currently the Hunt Family Assistant Professor of Music at Duke University, where he co-directs The Emergence Lab with Bill Seaman, Supko holds degrees from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (BM) and Princeton University (PhD).

divine the rest (2015)

In “divine the rest” (NewAm, 2015) I try to generate serendipity through the interweaving of human expression and computer operations. NOW Ensemble plays minimally notated pitch material-single notes, dyads, chords, but no rhythms-according to a variety of strategies I describe in prose instructions. Their playing responds to the ever-changing sonic environments the computer creates through the manipulation of field recording samples, drones, fleeting sine-tone melodies, and fragments of spoken text. The texts themselves are also generative.

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FLESH (2013)

FLESH, written for Jack Dettling, is a work for vocalizing pianist and generative electronics conceived as a series of images: a long, pensive walk in a faraway city; a simple song relentlessly and violently interrupted; a train barreling toward an unknown destination; a computer that studied poetry with Christopher Knowles; an uneasy coexistence of the sacred and the profane (a Bach chorale and 1980’s shock radio); and, finally, the frenetic energy of an amusement park tamed by the vagaries of a wandering mind.

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the ambassador of light (2014)

“the ambassador of light” is track 21 on the generative electronic album “s_traits” (Cotton Goods, 2014.) This album was a collaboration between media artist and fellow Duke University faculty member Bill Seaman, myself, and the artificially intelligent system I designed to compose music from a database of 100+ hours of sound. The video is by Evan Chapman and the dancer is Myssi Robinson. Bill and I each composed 13 tracks on the album. I composed this track.

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