John McCowen

Artist in Residence, 2024

Artist Statement

My musical life has become an obsession with discovering a polyphonic language on a historically monophonic instrument – the clarinet. This path has led him to a unique acoustic vocabulary that is akin to an ever-shifting soundscape of electronic feedback. My multiphonic approach embraces drones, difference and combinatorial tones, and beating harmonics as a means to showcase the compositional potential within a single, acoustic sound source.


While at Headlands

While at Headlands I plan to pursue a number of projects. The first is a recording project nearly a decade in planning – with my friend and collaborator, Theresa Wong. This will be a series of compositions/improvisations for clarinets/recorders & cello/voice. Theresa and I have had the opportunity to perform together in a number of different ensembles over the years and our musical languages have always felt drawn to one another. This is based on a common interest in tones that when intertwined, create combinatorial phenomena. Another project I plan to work on is a commission for the Icelandic baroque ensemble, Nordic Affect. This is a composition for harpsichord, violin, viola, cello, and recorder. I am looking forward to sitting by the Pacific Ocean and seeing what music I hear.