When I was young the virtues of tonal music and atonal music were strongly debated by composers and theorists, all of whom were quite divided on this subject. Nobody seemed to really notice that all this time Bartok and others were writing fine music without taking a position on one side or the other. I think we finally need a new harmony book that goes beyond tonal and atonal and considers all the Other Harmony that has dominated and continues to dominate music.
The original website of Editions 75 still contains plenty of information, that will be slowly migrated to microsites. The portal offers a way to search all the data available: biography in several languages, full catalogue, CDs, books, articles and sound files.
I have always found it stimulating to talk with other composers, and not only to the other American minimalists. Do they have the same problems and questions that I have? What can we learn from one another? How can we help one another? With the exception of a few letters, composer-to-composer communication is largely absent from the files of music history, and I thought it could be useful to introduce some Music by my Friends in my own personal way. I love the compositions of these people, even when they are quite different from my own, and I want listeners to hear them through the ears of another composer.
The theory of the logical and mathematical techniques used by the composer: finite and infinite automata. the paper-folding formula, “self-replicating” melodies, etc. A rather detailed discussion, 291 pages, with many new melodies, written to demonstrate the techniques used. The microsite contains extra material and links to many of the references used in the book.
With this online digital edition, I am officially donating all these articles to the public domain. I have the right to do this, because the Village Voice, ever since its beginnings in the 1950s, has been truly a writer’s newspaper, giving 100% of the control and royalties of its articles to the people who wrote them. The Voice was, and perhaps still is, the only large commercial newspaper anywhere where this is the case, and of course, this is one of the things that has made this weekly newspaper a truly important “voice” in our world. Tom Johnson
A microsite where you will find guitar music from 1983 to 2014, including a new version of Septapede (1972) for guitar.
Tom Johnson, born in Colorado in 1939, received B.A. and M.Mus. degrees from Yale University, and studied composition privately with Morton Feldman. After 15 years in New York, he moved to Paris, where he has lived since 1983. He is considered a minimalist, since he works with simple forms, limited scales, and generally reduced materials, but he proceeds in a more logical way than most minimalists, often using formulas, permutations, predictable sequences and various mathematical models.
Johnson is well known for his operas: The Four Note Opera (1972) continues to be presented in many countries. Riemannoper has been staged more than 30 times in German-speaking countries since its premier in Bremen in 1988. Often played non-operatic works include Bedtime Stories, Rational Melodies, Music and Questions, Counting Duets, Tango, Narayana's Cows, and Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass.
His largest composition, the Bonhoeffer Oratorium, a two-hour work in German for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, with text by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was premiered in Maastricht in 1996, and has since been presented in Berlin and New York.
Johnson has also written numerous radio pieces, such as J'entends un choeur (commissioned by Radio France for the Prix Italia, 1993), Music and Questions (also available on an Australian Broadcasting Company CD) and Die Melodiemaschinen, premiered by WDR Radio in Cologne in January 1996.
The principal recordings currently available on CD are the Musique pour 88 (1988) (XI), An Hour for Piano (1971) (Lovely Music), The Chord Catalogue (1986) (XI), Organ and Silence (2000) (Ants), and Kientzy Plays Johnson (2004) (Pogus), Rational Melodies and Bedtime Stories performed by clarinetist Roger Heaton (Ants Records AG12) and Symmetries (Karnatic LabsKLR 010).
Recent projects include Tilework, a series of 14 pieces for solo instruments, published by Editions 75 in 2003, Same or Different, a piece commissioned by the Dutch radio in 2004, and the Combinations for String Quartet, premiered in Berlin on the MärzMusik festival in 2004, and more recently, scores such as Kirkman’s Ladies, Networks, Septet, and 55 Chords for two electric keyboards, all derived from combinatorial designs. As performer he frequently plays his Galileo, a 40-minute piece written for a self-invented percussion instrument.
Johnson received the French national prize in the victoires de la musique in 2001 for Kientzy Loops. The latest orchestra score is 360 Chords, premiered in July 2008 by Musica Viva in Munich.
75, rue de la Roquette, 75011 Paris, France
Tel. (+33) 1 43 48 90 57