David Rosenboom: Propositional Music

May 22–24, 2015

Propositional Music is a three-day concert series presented by ISSUE Project Room in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, celebrating fifty years of pioneering work by composer, performer, conductor, author and educator David Rosenboom. In this series, Rosenboom and many long-time collaborators present a selection of his major works of experimental music spanning a half-century, from Continental Divide (1964) through Ringing Minds (2014). 

As the series title suggests, his disparate artistic practice is connected by a relentless inquisitive nature, which has often placed Rosenboom outside the narratives of avant-garde composition, Minimalism, and free ­improvisation, though he has fundamentally contributed to and collaborated with these artistic communities. His work distinguishes itself by drawing from scientific, artistic, social, and cosmological thought, gleaning the potentials for music to apply and advance interdisciplinary organizing principles and research in revealing the collective knowledge that connects us to our universe. Biological structure and models of evolution inform the percussion and computer work Zones of Influence (1984­–85), as a virtuoso performer’s melodies take the role of DNA, providing genetic information which then is transformed, mutated, and redistributed through the course of the work into a new multipart counterpoint. Recent technological advances in neuroscience have caught up with Rosenboom’s "brainwave music" theories of the 1960s and 70s, facilitating a new piece, Ringing Minds (2014), wherein a group of people’s neural network signals can act as one to become the artistic material initiating musical experience. And the massive conceptual work How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims (1969–1971) places strict musical order into decidedly conflicting relationships with both subharmonic frequencies and cross-cultural music genres and forms. This rare opportunity to hear a career-spanning survey of Rosenboom's important work makes clear that his uniquely produced systems communicate something highly substantive—both in their musical results and their theoretical abstractions. 

Rosenboom will be joined by a range of distinguished performers including William Winant, I Nyoman Wenten, Swapan Chaudhuri, Aashish Khan, Vinny Golia, Daniel Rosenboom, and visual artist Tony Martin, among others. 

Propositional Music is presented by ISSUE Project Room in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art; organized by Tommy McCutchon and Lawrence Kumpf with Jay Sanders, Curator of Performance at the Whitney.

Support for Propositional Music is provided in part by The Richard Seaver Distinguished Chair in Music at California Institute of the Arts, Yamaha Artist Services, New York, and The David Bermant Foundation. Yamaha Disklavier grand pianos provided by Yamaha Artist Services, New York.

Support for the Whitney’s Performance Program is provided in part by the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.


David Rosenboom (b. 1947) is a composer, performer, conductor, interdisciplinary artist, author and educator known as a pioneer in American experimental music. Since the 1960s David Rosenboom has explored the spontaneous evolution of musical forms, languages for improvisation, new techniques in scoring for ensembles, multi-disciplinary composition and performance, cross-cultural collaborations, performance art and literature, interactive multi-media and new instrument technologies, generative algorithmic systems, art-science research and philosophy, and extended musical interface with the human nervous system. His work is widely distributed and presented around the world. He holds the Richard Seaver Distinguished Chair in Music at CalArts where he is also Dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music. David Rosenboom is a Yamaha Artist.


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In the News

Review: "‘David Rosenboom: Propositional Music,’ an Avatar of Experimentalism"
The New York Times