center for contemporary non-objective art


Tom Hamilton 2003

*1946 in Appleton, WISC (USA)

Lives & works in New York City (USA)

Hamilton has composed and performed electronic music for over 25 years, and he most often features older analog synthesizers in performance and recording. Since 1979, he has been exploring the relationships between "Formal and Informal Music" in an ongoing series of concerts and recordings that contrast structure with improvisation and textural electronics with acoustic instruments. Hamilton regularly appears in New York, often with trombonist Peter Zummo. He has been a featured artist at new music festivals in the U.S., Holland and Newfoundland.Hamilton was a featured artist in summer 1996 at Sound Symposium in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he presented the installation version of Off-Hour Wait State, which uses the New York Subway system as a basis for his sound environment. The CD of this music features Thomas Buckner, Roscoe Mitchell and Ralph Samuelson, Peter Zummo and Jonathan Haas. Since 1990, Hamilton has been a member of composer Robert Ashley’s touring opera ensemble, performing sound processing and mixing in both recordings and concerts. He has mixed CDs of the Ashley operas Improvement, eL/Aficionado and Your Money My Life Goodbye, as well as recordings for David Behrman, Thomas Buckner, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock and "Blue" Gene Tyranny. Hamilton has been a collaborator with visual artists, including Heleen Waterbolk (computer animator), Van McElwee and Morey Gers (video artists), and the late Ernst Haas (photographer). He performs and records with the improvising quartet "Act of Finding," with Bruce Arnold, Thomas Buckner and Ratzo B. Harris.

His audio work London Fix: Music Changing with the Price of Gold was part of the CCNOA experimental audio program ‘Earrwitness’ 2003.

"A few years ago, my wife helped a neighbor finding a craftsman who could restore his badly damaged violin. We visited our neighbor when the work was done, and after admiring the restoration, he asked us if we’d like to see what he did for a living. Turning on his computer, he revealed screen after screen of colorful stock charts used in the technical analysis of the markets. The visual and dynamic representation of the market was strange to me, but I instantly became addicted to the squiggles: A primary tool for the stock trader looked like a musical score to me. I spent the next 3 years pouring over market analysis texts, both standard and arcane. Having no money to trade, but lots of music to write, I was more interested in the method than the madness. This music follows the contours of the spot gold market as defined by the twice-daily London Fix. I used the 12 monthly price charts of 2002 to animate an electronic pitch-making system of my own design, mapping the charts to control individual pitch possibilities, range, and even portamento (perhaps a slight nod to the violin). Facilitated by Michael J. Schumacher’s computer programming, I used the historical chart data both in a linear and recursive fashion, resulting in sonic fluctuations that compress and superimpose time in a way that discourages any literal interpretation. Being interested in a particular musical end, simple representation has less appeal (to me) than the counterpoint resulting from simultaneity."

London Fix: Music Changing with the Price of Gold
(photo ccnoa)