William Duckworth (January 13, 1943 – September 13, 2012) was an American composer, author, educator, and Internet pioneer. He wrote more than 200 pieces of music and is credited with the composition of the first postminimal piece of music, The Time Curve Preludes (1977–78), for piano. Duckworth was a Professor of Music at Bucknell University. Together with Nora Farrell, his wife, he ran Monroe Street Music, the publisher of many Duckworth's pieces.
Duckworth was born in North Carolina in 1943. He obtained a bachelor's degree in music from East Carolina University, then master's and doctorates in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana.He studied composition under composer Ben Johnston and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the notation of composer John Cage. Duckworth received a 2002 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1977. Duckworth collaborated with his future wife, Nora Farrell, on his internet projects before marrying her. Over the years Duckworth enjoyed a close collaboration with James Jordan who frequently performs Duckworth's music with his world-renowned choral ensembles. Duckworth died at his home in West New York, N.J., after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.
Duckworth wrote more than 200 pieces of music. His best-known compositions include The Time Curve Preludes , 24 short pieces for piano, and Southern Harmony , which consists of 20 pieces for an eight-part chorus and employs features of shape note singing and minimalism. Other works include Mysterious Numbers, written for chamber orchestra, Imaginary Dances, for solo piano, and Simple Songs about Sex and War, written in collaboration with poet Hayden Carruth. "The Time Curve Preludes" were recorded by Bruce Brubaker in 2009,and by R. Andrew Lee in 2011. In the last months of his life, Duckworth completed a piano concerto for Brubaker.
Duckworth was professor and former chairman of the Department of Music at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn.A 1992 profile in Rolling Stone magazine described him as a "hip, bright, innovative teacher." Duckworth instructed Martin Rubeo, founder of the alternative rock band Gramsci Melodic, when the latter was a student at Bucknell University.
Much of Duckworth's late music was composed and performed as part of 'Cathedral'. Conceived in 1996 and launched on June 10, 1997, Cathedral is a work in music and art which depicts five "mystical moments in time": The building of the Great Pyramid in Giza, the building of Chartres Cathedral, the 19th century Native American Ghost Dance movement, the detonation of the atomic bomb, and the creation of the World Wide Web.
More recently, Cathedral has served as the site for the distribution of The iPod Opera 2.0: The Myth of Orpheus, the Chronicler and Eurydice, podcast in 26 episodes as MP3 and QuickTime video files. The video episodes may be downloaded and played on many different kinds of computer systems, including Apple OS, Windows and Linux computers, while the MP3 files may be downloaded and burned as an audio disk. The completion of the podcast in February 2007 was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first performance of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo .
Cathedral features an instrument called the PitchWeb, which allows anyone with a computer to play along with the Cathedral Band when the band is performing live over the Internet. Duckworth plays the PitchWeb on a laptop computer when the band performs live.
Cathedral was conceived during a conversation Duckworth had with his wife, Nora Farrell, a software designer who specializes in music and publishing web applications. Farrell collaborated with Duckworth on Cathedral and elements of it such as "The iPod Opera 2.0." As a member of the Cathedral Band, she edits the PitchWeb contributions by outside musicians.
A chapter in Duckworth's 2005 book, Virtual Music: How the Web Got Wired for Sound, discusses the Cathedral site.
David Eugene Tudor was an American pianist and composer of experimental music.
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, artist, and philosopher. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.
Conlon Nancarrow was an American-born composer who lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life. He became a Mexican citizen in 1956.
Benjamin Burwell Johnston Jr. was an American contemporary music composer using just intonation. He was called "one of the foremost composers of microtonal music" by Philip Bush (1997) and "one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer" by John Rockwell (1990).
James Tenney was an American composer and music theorist. He made significant early musical contributions to plunderphonics, sound synthesis, algorithmic composition, process music, spectral music, microtonal music, and tuning systems including extended just intonation. His theoretical writings variously concern musical form, texture, timbre, consonance and dissonance, and harmonic perception.
Larry Don Austin was an American composer noted for his electronic and computer music works. He was a co-founder and editor of the avant-garde music periodical Source: Music of the Avant Garde. Austin gained additional international recognition when he realized a completion of Charles Ives's Universe Symphony. Austin served as the President of the International Computer Music Association (ICMA) from 1990–1994 and served on the Board of Directors of the ICMA from 1984–88 and from 1990–98.
Earle Brown was an American composer who established his own formal and notational systems. Brown was the creator of open form, a style of musical construction that has influenced many composers since—notably the downtown New York scene of the 1980s and generations of younger composers.
Toshiro Mayuzumi was a Japanese composer known for his implementation of avant-garde instrumentation alongside traditional Japanese musical techniques. His works drew inspiration from a variety of sources ranging from jazz to Balinese music, and he was considered a pioneer in the realm of musique concrète and electronic music, being the first artist in his country to explore these techniques. In the span of his career, his works included symphonies, ballets, operas, and film scores, and was the recipient of an Otaka prize by the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Purple Medal of Merit.
Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member chamber orchestra that focuses on recordings and performances of contemporary classical music. Its performances have been described as "equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity" by the Financial Times and as "a triumph of ensemble playing" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times said that Alarm Will Sound is "one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene."
Bernhard Heiden was a German and American composer and music teacher, who studied under and was heavily influenced by Paul Hindemith. Bernhard Heiden, the son of Ernst Levi and Martha (Heiden-Heimer) was originally named Bernhard Levi, but he later changed his name.
An Internet band, also called an online band, is a musical group whose members collaborate online through broadband by utilizing a content management system and local digital audio workstations. The work is sometimes released under a Creative Commons license, so musicians can share their "samples" to create collaborative musical expressions for noncommercial purposes without ever meeting face to face.
Sonatas and Interludes is a cycle of twenty pieces for prepared piano by American avant-garde composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1946–48, shortly after Cage's introduction to Indian philosophy and the teachings of art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, both of which became major influences on the composer's later work. Significantly more complex than his other works for prepared piano, Sonatas and Interludes is generally recognized as one of Cage's finest achievements.
Peter Traub is an American composer of electronic and acoustic music and sound installations. His work often focuses on the use of technology to mediate physical and virtual spaces.
Huck Hodge is an American composer of contemporary classical music.
Roger John Goeb was an American composer.
Bruce Brubaker, the American artist, musician, concert pianist, and writer, was born in Iowa.
Irritable Hedgehog Music is a Kansas City-based record label, focused primarily on minimalist music and electroacoustic music.
Nadia Sirota is an American viola player. Her father is Robert Sirota, a composer and conductor.
R. Andrew Lee is an American pianist of contemporary classical music, with a particular emphasis on Minimal music and music of the Wandelweiser collective. He has recorded ten albums for Irritable Hedgehog Music.
The Time Curve Preludes is a minimalist composition for piano solo by William Duckworth written between 1977 and 1978. This piece is credited as the first postminimal piece of music, and it is his most frequently heard work. The Time Curve Preludes were composed between 1977 and 1978 on a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. They were premiered at Wesleyan University in 1979 by pianist Neely Bruce. Duckworth used elements of Minimalism, including repetition and accessible harmonies, yet also embraced more quickly changing structures; wide-ranging, complex melodies; and colorful dissonances.