Drake Andersen is a composer whose work encompasses acoustic and electroacoustic music for diverse performing forces of all sizes and categories, collaborative projects for dance and theater, site-specific installations and interactive electronic environments. His creative work often employs nonlinear systems such as indeterminacy, improvisation, software algorithms and new musical interfaces to cultivate multi-voiced textures and new paradigms of interaction. His compositions have been performed at venues throughout the United States and Europe, including Symphony Space, the Park Avenue Armory, New World Symphony Center, Teaterhuset Avant Garden (Trondheim), Dixon Place and the Irondale Center. Andersen has performed on flute and live electronics throughout the United States and Latin America.
Drake Andersen is the founder of Creative Interaction. He is frequently engaged as a sound designer for theater and dance, an electronic music specialist for contemporary music ensembles and an improviser with live electronics. Andersen is a student in the Ph.D. program in Music Composition at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He teaches electroacoustic music at Vassar College and Brooklyn College, and music technology at Ballet Tech, the New York City Public School for Dance.
Andersen’s principal composition teachers include Nils Vigeland, Joel Chadabe and Marjorie Merryman. He has also studied flute with Robert Dick. Andersen holds degrees from Macalester College and the Manhattan School of Music.
Music is a form of madness. Foucault’s model seems equally apt to characterize civilized society’s reception of both: “a structure is forming which does not resolve the ambiguity but determines it.” Music decomposes structure; it rejects synthesis and scatters atoms along the time axis. Great art thrives in the margins of intelligibility and reason, despite our self-important impulse to understand, contain and resolve it. We invent a structure -– rational causes for the enigmatic, irrational effects — and the ineffable original meaning is supplanted by the ruler-straight lines penciled in between the points.
I do not seek to communicate, but to reveal. Truth often precedes logic, and expression may be amplified when unmediated by common expectations. The madman’s ramblings defy reason, but Mussorgsky’s holy fool is uniquely unswayed by the pretender’s mendacity. Meaning in art is fundamentally ambiguous, both for the transmitter and receiver. Music which relies exclusively on intelligible symbols and narratives is not art: it is ideology. Art, like life, is not circumscribed by a single concept, a political platform or even the most robust theory or technique. To paraphrase Lorca, music is both “theory” and “play”.
I believe that music is new only while it resists, while it remains in motion. Like peripheral Eurydice, music dies just when it is crystallized. While it lives, music is ungovernable. It subverts prescribed identities, seeking the thresholds and boundaries instead.
The most effective resistance, of course, presupposes the broadest possible understanding of the structures already in place. Writing music, for me, is an endless rediscovery and reframing of the world and the interactions which it comprises. With each new composition, I find myself examining my own impulse towards musical expression in the context of the pervasive sources of extra-musical inspiration in our world. My intention in writing music is not strictly political or social, but I feel obliged to acknowledge that my interior ruminations are impure, subjective and never “absolute”.
By discovering new confluences between my own works and the universe outside, my own conceptions become extremely malleable. As a composer, I seek to continuously expand the sound world of my own compositions, while interrogating and re-evaluating my role as an artist in the broadest sense of the word. The craftsman concentrates his knowledge towards a single goal which is steadily elucidated; the artist cultivates a humble, ecstatic mind of perpetual epiphany. The only honest reaction to the unfathomable complexity of our world is sincere wonder and astonishment.
To contact Drake Andersen, please send an email to: drake [at] drakeandersen.com