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Music of Shadows

An album of three soundscape compositions by Philip Blackburn

The Latest Update

Night Time

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Philip Blackburn

Music of Shadows is still percolating throughout the listening world, but I keep making new stuff. It comes from the same DNA so maybe it’s related somehow. What do you think?

More Updates ▼

Music of Shadows hits the stores today!

Posted on June 24, 2014 by innova Recordings

Thanks to the innova and Naxos teams and their allies, Philip Blackburn’s Music of Shadows (formerly known as Dry Spell) has filtered through the the distribution channels and is now never more than a few clicks away wherever you may be in the universe. 

Here’s a little teaser that gives a glimpse into some of the origins of the other-wordly music. If you have heard the album won’t you leave a few choice adjectives in the Comments here or at the iTunes and Amazon Customer Reviews? Thanks for being a part of this adventure down the manholes.


They’re back

Posted on April 15, 2014 by innova Recordings

The CDs now exist in the real world and will be leaked to lucky attendees at release parties in Duluth and New York. Those less fortunate can order them direct from innova.mu starting next week, and they will be globally available to the masses on the June 24 street release date. If you listen and like well enough to write an iTunes or Amazon customer review, you will have our eternal gratitude.

A prize if you know where the album cover image was shot.

Music of Shadows (formerly Dry Spell)

Posted on March 21, 2014 by Philip Blackburn

Here’s a preview of the upcoming CD package and info on the innova site.

Attend the Aril 23 screening of The Sun Palace and claim your free CD which by then should be hot off the press.

CD prerelease event and world premiere film screening, April 23

Posted on March 10, 2014 by innova Recordings


The Sun Palace movie will have its world premiere screening at the Anthology Film Archives in New York, April 23 as part of NewFilmMakersPlease, please come. It will double as a CD pre-release event for Music of Shadows, [formerly Dry Spell, funded by NewMusicUSA] Philip’s upcoming CD on the innova label that features “The Long Days Closes” (also the soundtrack to the Germ Requiem section of the movie) as well as some music originally intended for playback in the St. Paul sewer system. Be assured, nobody will leave empty handed or with a dry eye.

WHAT: Philip Blackburn’s one-hour film, The Sun Palace; an experimental, intense, sensuous, musico-medical vintage mashup extravanganza with something to do with tuberculosis, Colorado, rich people, stigma, artistic talent, and public health crises (not unlike the more recent HIV one). Another time, another plague…

Gardiner tents for chasing the cure in Colorado Springs, 1905

Gardiner tents for chasing the cure in Colorado Springs, 1905

WHERE: Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave (at 2nd St), New York, 10003. 

F train to 2nd Avenue, walk two blocks north on 2nd Avenue to 2nd Street; 
#6 to Bleecker St., walk one block north on Lafayette, then two blocks east on Bond St. (turns into 2nd St.) to 2nd Avenue.

WHEN; Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 6pm. Stay around and chat with Philip and other family, innova friends, and random strangers.

UCCS performers on the mesa near Cragmor

UCCS performers on the mesa near Cragmor

COST: $6 but comes with an hour of intense pleasure, fellowship, and a free CD.

RSVP: on Facebook or send a message to Philip

New album title

Posted on February 24, 2014 by innova Recordings

The album is evolving nicely, one token of which is a name change; from Dry Spell (still the title of one piece) to Music of Shadows. Seems a bit spookier, more accurate, and less like a paean to writer’s block.

Also mark your calendars for a pre-release event in New York City, April 23, combined with the world premiere screening of The Sun Palace. Details TBA.


My work explores the coupling of sound and space, and the resonance of specific places; I am as happy with voices in a cathedral or foghorns in a harbor as I am with music designed for storm sewers or on the grounds of a TB sanatorium.

I will produce an audio CD of three major recent works that started life as site specific soundscape compositions but that can now travel and have a life of their own. Dry Spell and Still Points are two contrasting pieces created to reveal the hidden  storm drain system near the Mississippi River in St. Paul — my Sewer Pipe Organ. A Germ Requiem was the climax of an intense hyperopera about a health crisis we’d rather forget.

Together these will constitute a substantial follow-up to my first CD, Ghostly Psalms, that received unusual praise for its ‘blissfully overwhelming’, ‘trippy’, and ‘apocalyptic’ qualities. Silas Brown of Legacy Sound will master the existing recordings and the album will be released on the innova label, distributed by Naxos, in April 2014.

It will be promoted through innova’s network of media contacts, reviewers, blogs, radio stations, licensed to film/TV and for dance. 200 promos will be sent out to targeted contacts, with 950 further digital media contacts. Ads in The Wire and Musicworks will be augmented by boosted Facebook posts (up to 18,000 followers) and Google ads. The Sun Palace (that included A Germ Requiem) will be repeated in October 2014 at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ 50th anniversary and the opening of their fine arts building. CDs will be prominent then. The works for Sewer Pipe Organ can be mounted anywhere there are suitable drains and persistent civic leaders (Minneapolis Convention Center, most recently). The CD will help pursue such opportunities.

While my work as an arts administrator keeps my name in print, it overshadows my life as a composer. I can’t wait to share this second CD with the many fans I made with my inaugural album, and show that wasn’t just a flash in the pan. My live works tend to be gargantuan in scale so documenting them becomes an art form in itself; these three works make the leap to audio particularly well and provide an intense listening experience that has my DNA all over it.

Project Media

Dry Spell
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Features: Philip Blackburn

Skip to around 23:50 for a work sample, though you may drop the needle anywhere (as indicated) since it evolves slowly. Dry Spell (2011, rev 2013) is the first of two tracks composed for playback inside the St. Paul sewer system near the Mississippi River. It reveals the acoustic spaces hidden beneath the city and is a poetic, quasi-steampunk industrial soundscape featuring the cries of lost children and clattering of giant machinery. Performed by Zeitgeist and friends on my homemade instruments (strings, pipes, voices mostly).

Still Points
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Features: Philip Blackburn

The 2nd of two tracks for the 2011 Sewer Pipe Organ underground installation audible through the manhole covers of St. Paul. Drop the needle but also check around 12:47 and 15:23.

Video of installed version:

Still Points [of the turning world] is a polyphonic test-tone, created on a Virtual Rhythmicon (conceived by Cowell and Theremin) in Just Intonation harmonic and rhythmic proportions based on the 60 cycle hum of the electric supply. Its clean, dancing geometries demonstrate space and volume

A Germ Requiem (from The Sun Palace)
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Features: Philip Blackburn

Live soundtrack from UC-Colorado Springs 60+ member chorus and instruments (Jane Rigler producer) to accompany a section of my hyperopera about the Cragmor TB sanatorium that later became UCCS.
Whole work runs from 29:48 to 55:40. Work sample starts around 44:00.
Visuals will be lost on the proposed CD so do not judge the film per se.
Work is included as documentation of a large-scale musical production bridging the areas of installation, soundscape and concert.

Info on the staged hyperopera version: http://thesunpalace.org/

Start and End Dates



St. Paul, Minnesota

6 updates
Last update on September 16, 2014

Project Created By

St.Paul, Minnesota
Philip Blackburn was born in Cambridge, England, and studied music there as a Choral Scholar at Clare College (BA, MA). He earned his Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa where he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and began work on publishing the Harry Partch archives. Blackburn’s book, Enclosure Three: Harry Partch, won an ASCAP…

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Record label
St. Paul, Minnesota


One response to “Music of Shadows”

  1. Rick Baitz says:

    Philip, I’m looking forward to hearing this!

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