Ingram Marshall, composer who used electronics, natural sounds, dies at 80

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Ingram Marshall, an influential American composer who used mixtures of digital sound and commonplace orchestral devices to create deeply shifting, atmospheric and sometimes melancholic soundscapes, died Could 31 at a hospital in New Haven, Conn. He was 80.

He had issues from Parkinson’s illness, stated his spouse, Veronica Tomasic.

Mr. Marshall’s music drew on a wealth of kinds, from 18th-century hymnody and luxurious Romanticism to mid-20th century digital composition and minimalism — a breadth of influences that made his music virtually inconceivable to categorise. He was typically referred to as a post-minimalist, however he disliked the time period, suggesting postmodernist as a substitute. However his music additionally embraced a time-expanding component — a way of slowly unfolding — born of his fascination with the Indonesian gamelan, a standard percussion ensemble that he found as a university scholar within the late 1960s.

Skilled in using computer systems to provide musical sounds, first on the Columbia-Princeton Digital Music Heart and later on the California Institute of the Arts, he created some items with purely digital timbres — “blip and bloop and bleep” textures, as he as soon as referred to as them — however usually most popular gathering the sounds of the true world and modifying them with digital delays, looping and different strategies, usually including stay devices or vocals, which might be electronically processed as properly.

His best-known work, “Fog Tropes” (1981), used sounds he recorded close to San Francisco Bay, together with fog horns at completely different pitches, ringing buoys, seagulls and wind. Looped and processed, the recordings turned a dark-hued, hauntingly atmospheric rating, to which he added music for a stay brass sextet. In 2010, director Martin Scorsese used a bit of the piece in his movie “Shutter Island.”

“I by no means worship expertise for itself,” Mr. Marshall informed the web music web site Perfect Sound Forever in 2003. “It’s solely a software and one should keep away from the pitfall of all the time wanting the most recent, freshest expertise with a view to understand one’s music, as a result of that excellent expertise won’t ever exist. It’s higher to make use of what you could have, what you discover at your disposal and make the most effective of it — then you’re in cost.”

One other of Mr. Marshall’s most admired scores, “Kingdom Come” (1997) — a meditation on the Yugoslavian wars of the mid-1990s — makes use of closely processed recordings of Christian and Muslim sacred music recorded in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, wrapped inside a wealthy orchestral and choral material. Mr. Marshall had collected the music throughout a go to to the previous Yugoslavia in 1985. When his brother-in-law, journalist Francis Tomasic, was killed in Bosnia in 1994, Mr. Marshall wrote the work as a sort of requiem for victims of the battle.

“’Composers, poets and artists all the time really feel ineffective within the wake of calamity,” he informed the New York Occasions in 2001. “We aren’t firemen; we’re not philanthropists or inspirational audio system. However I believe it’s the tragic and calamitous in life that we attempt to make sense of, and that is the stuff of our lives as artists.”

Different works, together with “Gradual Requiem” (1978), “Hymnodic Delays” (1997), “Psalmbook” (2011) and “Magnificat Strophes” (2014), additionally draw on an innate spirituality.

Mr. Marshall typically used repetition and different minimalist strategies, however he rejected the dogma that drove the type, telling the New York Occasions in 2007 that the place minimalism was involved, “what was essential was not the method as a lot because the expressive use of it.”

And though his music embraced dissonance when he wanted it to speak an concept or a selected ambiance, he was as apt to write down a sleek melody supported with a lush Romantic texture, as he did in “Genuine Presence” (2002), for solo piano, or “Darkish Waters” (1995), for English horn and tape.

“Ingram Marshall is the nice poet of the vague,” Village Voice critic Kyle Gann wrote in 2002. “His music is filmy, nebulous. It melts. It enters unobtrusively and dies by slowly slipping away. In between the drama may be gripping, nevertheless it sneaks up on you.”

Ingram Douglass Marshall was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Could 10, 1942. His father was a banker, and his mom was a homemaker who was additionally a proficient beginner pianist and singer and inspired her son’s curiosity in music.

Mr. Marshall pursued his musical research at Lake Forest School in Illinois, the place he earned a bachelor’s diploma in 1964, and at Columbia College, the place he studied musicology with Paul Henry Lang and composition with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Mario Davidovsky, two pioneers of digital composition.

In 1966, Mr. Marshall continued his work in digital music on the California Institute of the Arts, the place he was a graduate assistant to the composer Morton Subotnick. Along with research of digital music, Mr. Marshall found the Indonesian gamelan at Cal Arts and studied with Okay.R.T. Wasitodipura earlier than touring to Indonesia and Bali on a Fulbright fellowship to analyze additional. He accomplished his grasp of superb arts diploma in 1971 and remained at Cal Arts to show.

Mr. Marshall was within the San Francisco space from 1973 till 1985, composing works comparable to “Fragility Cycles” (1978) for gambuh (a Balinese bamboo flute) and synthesizer, and “Fog Tropes,” which started as a contribution to a different composer’s evening-long work about San Francisco’s climate. For some time, Mr. Marshall used the digital element of the piece, then referred to as “Fog,” as a prelude to performances of his “Fragility Cycles” (1978). However in 1981, John Adams — then the composer-in-residence on the San Francisco Symphony — invited Mr. Marshall to current a live performance of his music and prompt he add brass to “Fog,” an concept that yielded “Fog Tropes” in its last kind.

In 1985, Mr. Marshall married Veronica Tomasic, who survives him, together with their son, Dominic Marshall; a daughter from an earlier relationship, Juliet Simon; and 4 grandchildren.

After educating on the Evergreen State School in Olympia, Wash., Mr. Marshall joined the school at Yale College in 1989 and settled in Hamden, Conn. He was a visiting professor and senior fellow on the Brooklyn School Institute for Research in American Music in 1990 and 1991.

A number of of Mr. Marshall’s college students — together with Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Armando Bayolo and Tyondai Braxton — turned revered composers.

Among the many musicians who commissioned and carried out Mr. Marshall’s music have been the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet, the American Composers Orchestra, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the guitarist Benjamin Verdery and the pianist Sarah Cahill. He composed a concerto for classical and electrical guitars, “Darkish Florescence” (2004) that was given its premiere at Carnegie Corridor by Verdery and Andy Summers, the guitarist for the Police. He additionally collaborated with the photographer Jim Bengston on the multimedia works, “Alcatraz” (1982), in regards to the California jail, and “Eberbach” (1985), a couple of German monastery.

“I’ve to admit,” Mr. Marshall informed the web New Music Field in 2001, “I’m not prolific. I don’t write numerous music and it takes me a very long time to complete issues and it used to fret me. I used to assume ‘Oh, God, my profession, it’s not gonna go wherever except I’ve 4 or 5 symphonies,’ you already know, and extra of this and extra of that. However I all the time consider poets who possibly each 5 years publish a really slim quantity of poetry …. I consider my work as slightly like that, you already know there’s a sure essence, there’s a sure concentrated high quality to my work and that properly, it’s the outdated factor high quality versus amount. I simply attempt to give attention to doing what I do properly. It’s not lots, however you get much more out of what I’ve executed hopefully.”

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