Barton McLean:  Biographical Sketch

 

Child: Barton McLean was born in Poughkeepsie in 1938 and spent his boyhood happily engaging in pursuits of most boys of that age, with the exception that a piano happened to be in his grandparents' home in Wappingers Falls, NY, and this became the center of his attention as well as the tool of his ability to intuitively grasp the principles of music theory. He would spend hours on end improvising compositions, which, by the age of fourteen, began to be written down under the tutelage of his prescient piano teacher, Marjorie Wilber. His high school years saw his forming a series of jazz groups in which he play piano, and later, string bass in college (which enabled him to pay all his college expenses). Upon entering the Crane School of Music he became exempt from all freshman music theory and began to compose student works on his own, deriving inspiration from Sibelius and Hindemith, among others. By the second semester of his undergraduate study at Crane he was invited to teach upper level classes in chamber music and other areas. Upon graduating he was invited to become a Crane faculty member. Post-graduate work saw his first formal composition training under Henry Cowell at the Eastman School of Music. Like many composers, all of this music has now been discarded.

 

Adult: Having been taught and mentored by Henry Cowell and having developed his electronic music techniques  in the studios under the direction of Ianis Xenakis,  Barton McLean has experienced both the academic and the professional worlds of the composer, having had a 20-year teaching career in which, as director of the electronic music/music technology programs at Indiana University-South bend and the University of Texas-Austin he and his colleagues pioneered the first large-scale commercially-available digital sequencer (Synthi 100) and sampler (Fairlight CMI), and with his wife Priscilla produced 14  LP recordings and ten CDs, some of which have become staples in electronic music courses, one of which (2007) has an elegant 24-page booklet with photos in a release from EM Records (Japan) entitled "Electronic Landscapes." In 1983 he and Priscilla left academia to develop their electroacoustic duo The McLean Mix, which has proven itself in hundreds of concerts and installations throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Pacific Rim, and which has developed into a full-time career.  His major interests have been the integration of natural sounds into the web of traditional and non-traditional structures, the use of technology to articulate ideas based on environmental and cultural concerns, and the development of new instruments such as this recent development of performances systems in MAX/MSP such as the "Composers Playpen" the recent sound/light project the "Sparkling Light Console,”  and his most recent work with Kyma System. A signature McLean Mix collaboration, "Rainforest Images", has been released on compact disc by Capstone recordings (1993), and has been made into a video with Maylasian video artist Hasnul Saidon (1995). This 48-minute major work co-authored by Priscilla McLean uses resources on four continents, eleven organizations, seven live performers,  and five major studios and has taken five years to assemble. Also even more recently on the Capstone label appears "Gods, Demons and the Earth," and “The Electric Performer.” (1995 & 1997) Two recent CD releases have been his “Song of the Nahutal” and “Etunytude” on CRI (1997), and “Ritual of the Dawn,” “Forgotten Shadows,” and “Happy Days,” also on CRI (2000), both funded with grants from the Virgil Thompson Foundation.   He has also collaborated with Priscilla McLean on a grand multimedia installation commissioned by a consortium of universities and museums, called “The Ultimate Symphonius 2000,” premiered in 2/2000 at the Massachussets Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and subsequently taken on tour.  In addition to hundreds of residencies at universities, and an equal number at arts centers and museums in the USA and abroad, the McLeans have recently completed residencies as guest composers at the Asian Composers League in Manila,  the Universiti Malaysia - Sarawak, and  as composers in residence at the iEAR program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. More recent compositions, “Magic at Xanadu” and “Natural Energy” (with wife Priscilla McLean as co-composer/video artist) utilize his  sophisticated rendition of MAX/MSP programs called the “Composers’ Playpen” and "Sequencer Playpen," and premiered in 2008.  Recently (2012) the McLeans have produced three DVDs which are a summation of 12 years of creative video, audio, and live performing.  Since 2014 McLean has become an avid user and proponent of the Kyma System which has become the exclusive creative instrument in his work. Concurrently with this, he has been a beta tester for Kyma, as well as producing a series of Kyma tutorials, as well as writing the definitive review of Kyma in the Computer Music Journal. His Kyma creations are all available on Youtube.

Barton McLean: Professional Resume

Formal Degrees: Mus. D., 1972, Indiana University (Music Composition); M.M., 1965, Eastman (Music Theory); B.S., 1960, SUNY, Potsdam (Music Education).


Composition Teachers/Mentors: Henry Cowell (1963-5), Thomas Beversdorf (1969-72) Ianis Xenakis (1969-71)


Teaching: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Visiting Professor (1996), Co-Director, I EAR STUDIOS, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, Teacher, Computer Music (1987-89); Director, Electronic Music Center, Univ. of Texas-Austin (also theory, orchestration, composition), 1976-83; Indiana University-South Bend (Music Theory, Composition), 1969-76; Indiana University, Bloomington, (Music Theory) 1966-69; SUNY, Potsdam, (Music Theory, Ed., Piano, D. Bass (1960-66).


Administrative: New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Advisory Board (2007-2010). Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) Executive Committee (1982-9), Co-director, I-EAR Computer Music Studios, R.P.I (1987-9); Director, Electronic Music Center, Univ. of Texas-Austin (1976-83); Head, Theory-Composition, Director, Electronic Music Center, Indiana University-South Bend (1969-76); Executive Committee, Head, Radio Series, Submissions, Society of Composers, Inc. (1974-79).


Grants: 2010: NYFA Fellows/Innova Award for complete CD production 2004:  American Music Center Composer Award; 2003:  Patricia and Jerry Mangione Fellow for MacDowell Colony Residency. 2000: Virgil Thompson Foundation for CRI Recording "Forgotten Shadows."1997: Asian Cultural Council (Residency with Asian Composers League in Manila, Philippines), 1996: Virgil Thompson Fdn. (for CRI Recording), Universiti Malaysia Research Grant. 1994,1990: NYSCA Decentralization Grants for multimedia installations. 1986: N.Y. Foundation for the Arts Composer Fellowship; 1985; MacDowell Colony Fellowship (also 1983, '81, '79); 1986: Leighton Colony Banff Centre for the Arts Fellowship; 1982: Nat. Endowment for the Arts Composer Fellowship (also 1976); 1983: The ELECTRIC SINFONIA awarded prize at Int. Bourges Electroacoustic Music Festival; 1981: DIMENSIONS III chosen as the American representative of the UNESCO-IMC-Rostrum International Festival. 1981: Martha Baird Rockefeller grant to attend and perform in the Zagreb Muzicki Biennale. 1976: Nat. Endowment for the Arts Media Arts Grant. 1975-95, 55 Meet the Composer Grants from MTC New York, New England, Midwest, Mid-America, Texas, West, and California.


Recordings: 2009:  Innova Recordings.  SOUNDWORLDS (Innova 234).  CONCERTO:STATES OF BEING, RITUAL OF THE DAWN, DEMONS OF THE NIGHT, MAGIC AT XANADU, ICE CANYONS, RAINFOREST IMAGES II.  2007:  EM Records (Sounds, Reality and the Environment" series) EM 1060CD. SONG OF THE NAHUATL, VALLEY OF LOST DREAMS, JOURNEY ON A LONG STRING.  2000: Composers Recordings "Emergency Music Series" CRI CD 846. RITUAL OF THE DAWN, FORGOTTEN SHADOWS, HAPPY DAYS. 1997: Composers Recordings Inc., CD 764. SONG OF THE NAHUATL, ETUNYTUDE. 1996: Capstone (CPS 8637), DIMENSIONS II, DAWN CHORUS, DIMENSIONS III. 1995: Capstone Records (CPS 8622 CD), VISIONS OF A SUMMER NIGHT (III-V), EARTH MUSIC. 1994: (Capstone CPS 8617 CD), RAINFOREST IMAGES, HIMALAYAN FANTASY. 1990, Centaur Records CD (CRC 2047): VISIONS OF A SUMMER NIGHT: (I, IV) . 1987, MLC Records: IN WILDERNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD; 1983, Opus One Records: THE ELECTRIC SINFONIA, DIMENSIONS VIII; Folkways Records, THE LAST TEN MINUTES, ETUNYTUDE, 1972-82, MYSTERIES FROM THE ANCIENT NAHUATL-EXCERPTS (Folkways), DIMENSIONS III AND IV FOR SAXOPHONE & TAPE (CRI Recordings), HEAVY MUSIC FOR FOUR CROBARS, THE SORCERER REVISITED (Folkways), DIMENSIONS II FOR PIANO AND TAPE with David Burge, pno. (CRI Recordings), SONG OF THE NAHUATL (Folkways), DIMENSIONS I FOR VIOLIN AND TAPE (Advance Recordings), GENESIS, THE SORCERER REVISITED , DIMENSIONS II (Orion Records), SPIRALS (CRI RECORDINGS).


Major Articles and Biographical Descriptions: Wikipedia main entry (ongoing), THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF TOURING FOR A LIVING. JOURNAL SEAMUS, VOL. 20# 1 (2009).  The New Grove Dictionary (2000). Joel Chadabe, ELECTRIC SOUND, p. 330-331, Leon Dallin, LISTENERS' GUIDE TO MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING, P. 298: GROVE DICTIONARY OF MUSIC, THE HUMANISTIC TRADITION (Fiero, Brown & Benchmark textbook '92), EXPERIMENTAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS (major article Sept.'94), LEONARDO JOURNAL (Vol 2 #1 pp. 19-22, 1992), BAKERS BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY, THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY, TWENTIETH CENTURY MUSIC (Prentice-Hall, 1990), MUSIC SINCE 1945 (Godfrey-Schirmer, 1990), SEAMUS JOURNAL (several), ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN (Jan'90), KEYBOARD MAGAZINE (several), SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, INC. NEWSLETTER issues from 1995 through present regularly, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE Vol. 7, '82, INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC, Joseph Machlis, NEW DIRECTIONS IN MUSIC, David Cope, POLYPHONY MAGAZINE, Vol. 2, 1978, ASTERISK MAGAZINE, Vol. 2, 1976, PERSPECTIVES OF NEW MUSIC, 1983, AMC BULLETIN, VOL. 4, 1980, WHO'S WHO IN MUSIC, WHO'S WHO IN ENTERTAINMENT, THE INTERNATIONAL WHO'S WHO, WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA, STERN'S PERFORMING ARTS DIRECTORY, CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN COMPOSERS, PERSONALITIES OF AMERICA, etc. THE ART OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC (Keybd Magazine Publications).


DVDs (DISCOGRAPHY):  All from MLC Publications -- 2009.  1. THE McLEANS MIX THREE -- THREE COLLABORATIONS:  MILLing in the ENNIUM, JAMBORI RIMBA, NATURAL ENERGY (all 3 in collaboration with Priscilla McLean).  2.  McLEAN MIX LIVE: HAPPY DAYS, MAGIC AT XANADU  3.  SYMPHONY OF SEASONS;  AUTUMN REQUIEM (the last in collaboration with Priscilla McLean).

Youtube music videos:  Search the McLean Mix Youtube playlist, featuring work from 1962 - present.

Stream, view, and download Priscilla McLean's music for free HERE.

Stream, view, and download Barton McLean's music for free HERE.