PRESS: A selection of quotes from the press beginning in the late–1960s and continuing into recent years.
"Perhaps no composer has used more complex logical processes than David Rosenboom, a brilliant and multi–talented musician who also performs virtuosically on both piano and violin ... If Rosenboom's concepts are among the most abstract in the business, his sonic results are often sensuous and arrestingly meaningful."
–Kyle Gann, American Music in the Twentieth Century, Schirmer Books, New York, 1997
"In collaboration with the Issue Project Room, based in Brooklyn, the Whitney
presented its first concert in the theater on Friday night, the initial installment in a weekend series of programs devoted to works by the composer, conductor, performer, author, educator and avatar of experimental music David Rosenboom, spanning some 50 years of his career. . . Friday’s concert drew a standing-room crowd. Introducing the series, “David Rosenboom: Propositional Music,” Jay Sanders, a Whitney official . . . called Mr. Rosenboom an “iconoclastic artist” and ideal choice to kick off the museum’s musical presentations."
–Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, May 24, 2015
"The Whitney Museum of American Art, happily ensconced in its new digs on Gansevoort Street, made a particularly savvy choice by teaming up with Issue Project Room to present David Rosenboom’s Propositional Music — a three-day concert series spanning 50 years of his extraordinary compositions — inside the museum’s intimate, third-floor theater. The museum also threw down the gauntlet in terms of human computer interfaces, especially with what is referred to as BCMI, or Brain Computer Music Interfacing. . . Rosenboom, an iconic figure in the world of experimental music, . . . presented his 2014 piece “Ringing Minds—Collective Brain Responses Interacting in a Spontaneous Musical Landscape,” made in collaboration with computational neuroscientists and musician Tim Mullen and cognitive scientist and performer-composer Alex Khalil. . . . Rosenboom explained, “The role of the EEG people is to create active listeners. Listening is composing — that is a creative act,” and then added, “listening is the performing act."
–Ellen Perlman, Hyper Allergic, June 1, 2015
"We consider David Rosenboom an eclectic personage who in addition to playing a select number of acoustic and electronic instruments is also a composer, performer, writer, conductor, teacher and above all one of the great and relatively little–known (at least by us) electronic experimenters."
–Gino Dal Soler, Blowup (Italy), February 2001
"As ever with Rosenboom's work, it is charged with concentrated intellect yet makes for rich listening."
–Julian Cowley, The Wire (England), March 2001
"... David Rosenboom ... has become one of the leading lights of interactive computer composition."
–Kyle Gann, The Village Voice (USA), August 19, 2002
"Rosenboom is quite possibly the brainiest computer composer around, but don't expect dry cerebration: his stylistically wide–ranging textures are verdant with harmony and melody drawn from many eras and world cultures."
–CD Picks, The Village Voice (USA), January 16, 1996
"If the facility [REDCAT] has revealed anything, it is that David Rosenboom, who heads CalArts School of Music, is one of America's most underappreciated composers. That couldn't have been clearer earlier this month when he revived 90 minutes' worth of his obscure 1969 epic, 'How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims,' for Indian tala and sarode, deep winds, Balinese gamelan instruments, keyboards and a Javanese dancer. Minimalism, jazz improvisation and a variety of world music traditions met and had a blast."
–Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2008
"He is a talent to keep track of."
–Donal Henahan, The New York Times | November 25, 1970
"Mr. Rosenboom is sure–eared, sure–eyed and inventive ... He is particularly adept in sensing the relationship between sounds, sights and movements and balancing them against each other ... This was a total environmental music, but it was a very supporting environment to be in the midst of."
–Theodore Strongin, The New York Times, May 20, 1969
"'Naked curvature' is a unique composition of one hour, in the great tradition of experimental music. His approach is unique and innovative: it is an opera for whispered voices. Then comes a long soundtrack pretty crazy, disturbing, dark, soft and soothed, facetious, funny, mysterious. These instruments are flute, clarinet, percussion, violin and cello, and piano, moving through all kinds of atmospheres, but the concept does not stop, because revealed above is a discrete but always present electronic part, often executed by Rosenboom himself. Finally, three récitantes whisper a long text for much of the disc (various texts including one passage Nietzsche), with pre-established moods and intonations, reinforcing the full lunar side of the disc. The set is pretty awesome: crazy, mysterious, cathartic, hypnotic, feelings going well and multiply, an hour without interruption. No doubt, David Rosenboom is a great composer of the American avant-garde ...." (Translated from the original French.)
–Adrien Clabaut, Tzadikology, December 2015,
Zones of Influence
"This is a landmark creation, a breakthrough for the melding of virtual and real-time instrumental combinations. It also is fascinating music on any terms. Very recommended."
–Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, January 7, 2015
"The composition, which is significant for the innovative way in which it connected acoustic instruments with real-time processing, was written for percussionist William Winant . . . who performs it here. . . . With Touché, Rosenboom was able to combine Winant's varied array of pitched and unpitched percussion instruments with live processing in a way that was groundbreaking at the time and still is provocative today. . . . The traditional value of thematic development is abstracted and augmented by a multiplication of contrapuntal lines, leading to a densely complex surface sound. Extended to the work as a whole, Rosenboom's compositional processing makes for an especially dynamic structure built up of proliferating and interpenetrating lines."
–dbarbiero, Avant Music News, 2014
"It's both heady and brisk, cerebral yet entrancing, the percussive sounds dancing through the speakers/your ears, breezes from the South Pacific Islands, parts of Africa, and the rain forests of South America. It'll help your appreciation if you're a fan of delicate and/or exotic percussion and even more if you're fascinated by the intersection of humanity and technology...either way, much of this is beautiful. If Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa (the latter in 'classical' mode) collaborated for a soundtrack to The Outer Limits: The Movie, the result might've sounded like this."
–Mark Keresman, ICON, October 2014,
In the Beginning
"The music is orbital and shapely, and the way that sequences shore up next to one another gives 'In the Beginning I' a blooming quality and a feeling that one is witnessing a number of coexistent processes take form. As electronic compositions, Rosenboom's works have a particularly organic feel, and sequences shift in focus with an almost improvisational naturalness. . . . 'In the Beginning II (Song of Endless Light + Sextet)' is a stunning acoustic chamber piece . . . 'In the Beginning (Etude I)' . . . is an extraordinary realization of orbital masses and knotty, refracting shapes and clusters, fleshed out by gorgeous, Valkyrie-like high-harmonic drones. Indeed, there is something almost sacred in the hall-filling blocks of long tones as they cycle through scalar progressions; one feels as though Svoboda [trombonist] could be lifting an enormous edifice to the heavens. . . [In the Beginning (Etude III)] . . . is both natteringly particulate and imbued with a barrelhouse roll in its surprisingly jaunty dance. . . . In the Beginning presents David Rosenboom's music with warmth and striking clarity, giving acoustic crispness to a complex array of shapes and textures. What's more, these works are rendered with an appreciable stateliness, which may encourage his name to be a little more 'household'."
–Clifford Allen, Point of Departure, 2013
"He's [Rosenboom] an enormously ambitious composer, not so much in the careerist but the visionary sense. From the very beginning of his musical life he has wanted to unify the most divergent elements, and he seems to have the sort of intellect that can juggle extremely complex, sophisticated, and esoteric concepts and disciplines towards that goal. Computer algorithms, just intonation, stochastic mathematics, higher physics, neurobiological research: All these are fodder for his quest.
. . . The music is often highly textural, but usually the different lines, even when using limited pitches or ostinatos, are well distinguished from one to another, and also morph through different figurations throughout a work. The effect is like looking into a river and seeing a basic continuity of patterns, yet also constant variety and change.
. . . In a way this is sort of 'neo-Arts Nova' music, inventing structures to create all aspects of music from the ground up . . . It's a useful thing that along with his formidable intellect, Rosenboom is blessed with a natural, near-overwhelming musicality.
. . . There's a continual sense of curiosity and musical play animating the proceedings."
–Robert Carl, Fanfare, May/June 2013
"Considering Rosenboom's position as a mainstream baby boomer composer (born in 1947, after all), it makes sense that his elliptical, self-referencing musical philosophy would suggest something simultaneously ephemeral and timeless. And so, beyond the initial mix of electronic and instrumental swirls, burps, vast harmonic skeins and similarly evanescent musical poetry, and after an initial commitment to becoming immersed has been made, there are moments of genuine discovery."
–Laurence Vittes, Gramophone, April 2013
"Despite the opaque science, In the Beginning rarely sounds like a mere exercise, thanks to the live musicians collaborating on most pieces. 'In the Beginning III: (Quintet)', performed by Midnight Winds, has the woodwind ensemble blowing interlocking patterns that accelerate and decelerate, moving from a dizzying group-print to long, circular legatos."
–Dave Mandl, The Wire, April 2013
"In The Beginning goes down like a greatest hits collection, offering a huge variety of sounds with remarkable consistency. And each piece within the cycle is long enough that the listener can be fully absorbed. This CD is thoroughly engrossing, and highly recommended."
–Nick Storring, Musicworks, January 2014
Suitable for Framing
At Northern Illinois University on 19th April 1975 a remarkable concert took place featuring the twinned pianos of composers David Rosenboom and J.B. Floyd with added magic from South Indian percussionist Trichy Sankaran. It was documented on a painfully scarce LP issued by the Aesthetics Research Centre Of Canada. Now Suitable For Framing has resurfaced with additional material and it’s still a mesmerizing experience. The vinyl release carried the subtitle “forms of freedom for two pianos and mrdangam”. This was one of those incandescent moments that marked a confluence of energies released through experimental composition in the wake of Cage, Coltrane’s spiritual sublimation of jazz technique and exploratory, horizon-expanding engagement with non-European music.
The longest track, “19IV75”, is a 22-minute billowing keyboard duet, structured improvising that swirls and breaks around transitory compositional touchstones. These aids to navigation had been acquired during the preceding year through a series of concerts across Europe and North America and in accompanying Merce Cunningham’s dancers. Cues emerge spontaneously in the flux, are used and superseded in a musical outpouring that’s transporting and at times torrential.
The first movement of Rosenboom’s tripartite “Patterns For London” was written for performance at London’s 1972 International Carnival Of Experimental Sound. The pianists improvise around ostinato chords and modal scales that circulate within a potentially endless cyclical form. A dazzling ten-minute percussion solo follows. It wasn't included on the vinyl issue but clarifies helpfully an affinity between the aspirations of the two Americans and the dynamic tradition nourishing Sankaran. Rosenboom’s “Is Art Is” is another 20-minute track, now longer by a third than the LP version. It was written initially for Floyd’s group Electric Stereopticon and involves further engagement with infinite form, phased repetition and overlapping themes wound into an ecstatic proliferation of jazz-tinged minimalism, magnificently glossed by Sankaran’s drumming. “Suitable Bonus”, the concluding extra track, is improvised around a couple of Rosenboom’s compositions with Sankaran playing kanjira, a kind of tambourine. It resoundingly confirms the spirit of the occasion and puts the seal on a vital and thoroughly uplifting recording.
–Julian Cowley, The Wire, February 2005
". . . we are dealing with music that easily escapes the current rigid rules dictating the classical dimension and is without time but also without rules; the same dimension in which Conlon Nancarrow, Terry Riley or Cecil Taylor's work reside. . . . The long initial track 19/V/75 shows the two pianists starting with a downpour of complex patterns while being at the same time extremely natural, with the pianists challenging each other, watch each other, dancing one around the other with notes that run like drops of mercury in a saliscendi in between the highest peaks and the most profound abyss, not without enchanting retaliations of melody, space and sweetness that give human warmth while avoiding the cold trap of the virtuosismo around itself. . . . In Is Art Is the complete trio is together again and for the duration of the piece show their most agitated composing-improvising work, with vigorous rhythmic patterns that chase each other in short and long sustained repetitions and improvised variations with the Indian's propelling work for an exhausting tour de force. A simply magnificent record."
–Alfio Castorina (translated from the Italian), Kathodik, Italy, September 10, 2006
"It's music which seems to disclose a universal choreography, the patterns of an evolutionary dance that lies ordinarily beyond sensory awareness. As ever with Rosenboom's work, it is charged with concentrated intellect yet makes for rich listening."
–Julian Cowley, The Wire, March 2001
"The music is truly a wonder to behold, especially in light of the complex models and mechanisms developed by Rosenboom for the project . . . The pieces documented on Invisible Gold represent an undeniable milestone in the history of electronic music."
–Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, September 2, 2001
" ... essential listening [for] anyone interested in the history of electronic music."
–Gino Robair, Electronic Musician, E–Musician Xtra!, July 1, 2002
" ... these performances are exciting, challenging, and alive in a way one seldom hears even in the shiniest new works of digital music . . . striking a balance between chaos and repetition, transformation and contrast, variety and obsessive focus, and between their various available musical gestures and timbres. From very limited materials, convincing musical shapes are created."
–Andrew May, Computer Music Journal, Summer 2002
"This is a physical, spiritual and scientific immersion in the realm of experimental electronica . . . This CD is a must have for those interested in and passionate about the continuing evolution of experimental electronic music."
–Michael Shrapnel, indie-cds.com, February 13, 2006
Roundup, A Live electro–acoustic retrospective (1968–1984)
"David Rosenboom has been a pioneer in the use of music technology for over 20 years. His music, though firmly planted in the avant–garde and bristling with intellectual vigor, has always had a visceral, eclectic energy that sets it apart from the purely academic ... This music is idea based ... Rosenboom's superb ear for sonic detail, orchestration and improvisational nuance keep these potentially dry ideas vigorous and compelling in the hearing."
–Carter Sholz, Music Technology (USA), December 1988
Roundup Two, Selected music with electro–acoustic landscapes (1968–1984)
"There's a wild rawness to the sounds the young Rosenboom was performing in the 60s. 'Four Soundings from URBOUI, a score for a multimedia performance of Alfred Jarry's 'Ubu Roi,' alternates between near kosmische synths capes and robotic modular wailings. 'Music For Analog Computers' is a sprawling chaos of feedback, oscillators and electronic burbling that wouldn't be out of place at a basement noise show happening next week. 'BC—AD I (The Moon Landing' works in a similar vein, though less harsh and more hallucinatory. . . . Though the sounds were made from a complicated analogue electronic circuit of Rosenboom's design, it often sounds like Call Cobbs's harpsichord playing with Albert Ayler put through Terry Riley's timely accumulator. . . . this compilation provides a fascinating survey of a nascent composer."
–Matthew Erickson, The Wire (UK), December 2014
"A prescient adventure in real-time digital sound generation, using a computerised keyboard developed in collaboration with synthesizer pioneer Donald Buchla, 26 years on it still sound vivid and exhilarating. As ever with Rosenboom there's plenty going on at all times: withing the gleaming chromium texture of digital pop he envelops minimalist sequences, snatches of jazz and austere funk, echoes of Indian music, movie soundtrack moodiness, classic electronica and outright avant gardism, churned into a swirling continuum that accommodates and transcends them all. In effect, this is a vibrant celebration of active listening and of the musical plenitude that goes with being alive now. Our ears may have done a lot of catching up but Future Travel remains an exceptional pleasure."
–Julian Cowley, The Wire | January 2008
"The real challenge is to use the new sounds [from electronic instruments] as a stimulus to a new type of musical thinking, to place them in contexts that reinforce their own distinctive character. This is a challenge that David Rosenboom seems positively to relish. His new album Future Travel is remarkable not only for the warm organic timbres he coaxes from his synthesizers, but for the way these are woven into a tapestry that is as revelatory macroscopically as microscopically ... Rosenboom's new perspectives on electronic music are sure to suggest fresh possibilities to other composers working in this area. Also, the music just plain sounds good."
–Jim Aikin, Keyboard Magazine, July 1982
"A fine disc of computer music with some additional acoustical instruments in a mix that sounds both natural and complementary."
–Dean Suzuki, OP: Independent Music (USA), "P" Issue, 1981
"California–based composer and pianist David Rosenboom has been using neurological models and natural evolutionary forms as musical fodder for decades ... The result [Two Lines] is an exciting, often wave–like interaction ... emanating somewhere between the zap of synapses in action and the zip of a stimulated microchip."
–John Corbett, Downbeat (USA), July 1996
"Frequently it sounds like virtuosos and computer are trying to play all the notes at once, but it's amazing how focused Rosenboom's algorithmic improv is, even when that focus is constantly moving."
–CD Picks, The Village Voice (USA), April 29, 1997
"In his notes for this CD [Two Lines], composer David Rosenboom supplies a densely detailed explanation of the concept and musical structure of what is a complex and elegant musical experience, deeply satisfying in its unpredictability. Both Rosenboom and Braxton have such mastery of their instrument . . . that they are free to fearlessly explore Rosenboom's compositional structure . . . The subtleties of the dialog, the musical conversation,' in all its phases from contemplative listening to fast–paced repartee offer much to discover for both the sophisticated ear and the ear less well tuned. Braxton and Rosenboom demonstrate that it is possible to make both serious experimental and immensely pleasurable music."
–J.A., P (USA), Summer 1996
"Some pieces [from the CD Two Lines], such as Lineage, have the austere feel of contemporary classical while others are more unhinged. Enactment, for instance, features Braxton creating a non–stop flow of jittery sax while underneath is what sounds for all the world like a Conlon Nancarrow study played extremely fast on a toy piano. The title track [Two Lines by Rosenboom] is yet another approach, almost as if Thelonious Monk wrote extended instrumental explorations. Two Lines is more challenging but no less rich than the other albums."
–Lang Thompson, Creative Loafing (Atlanta, GA, USA), Novemver 23, 1996
A Precipice in Time
"Just as you are about to switch off, a piece by David Rosenboom — written in 1966, realized in 1991 — hits you right between the ears. Trickling effects, delirious rhapsodies, multiple event. Amazing alto sax . . . oh, it's Anthony Braxton. Despite the much-publicized claims of the minimalists to open up classical music to other cultures, their tame nods to world rhythm are blown to shreds by the vitality of cross-cultural eruptions like this."
–John Corbett, Downbeat (USA), July 1996
How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims
". . . And Section IX, "links" (aka Piano Etude II), is a breathless and exciting romp for piano with computer ostinatos, marimba, and Indonesian kendang, a kind of non-Western hyperjazz. . . . The music itself is consistently rich and engaging. . . . Rosenboom, ironically reminds me somewhat of Pierre Boulez, their technique and stylistic surfaces couldn't be more different, yet they share elements of life-trajectory. Both emerged rocket-like in youth, have tended to compose large works—but sparingly, have spent a lot of time revising and revisiting those pieces, are formidable performers, and have found a haven in musical administration. . . . That said, this release is recommended as a substantial example of one of a generation's most pioneering spirits, . . ."
–Robert Carl, Fanfare, November/December 2009
"In this near two hours of music, both electronic and acoustic, Rosenboom created a Mahlerian depiction of the world from primordial existence and nature to human life. . . . His greater goal was to challenge the musical establishment by showing how classical, avant garde and popular musics really could interact seamlessly. . . . With a brilliant new realisation as is presented here, this work of a bygone era makes the claim for further hearings not just as a historical document but as compelling music."
–Andrew Druckenbrod, Gramophone, September 2009
"Rosenboom plays with both a virtuoso's touch and flair, producing waves of tone in which every note's distinct."
–Gregory Sandow, The Village Voice (USA), July 19, 1983
"Rosenboom's performance of piano works was marked by great bravura . . . But there is much more than technique to Rosenboom's performance; it was also marked by strong personal involvement with his music throughout the evening. He never seemed to be merely going through the motions, but rather embodied the romantic ideal of the artist as a second creator."
–Ian Balfour, Excalibur (Toronto), March 6, 1975
"David Rosenboom and J.B. Floyd's concerts for two pianos . . . The compositions were overwhelmingly powerful constructions of many layered sound. Highly serial and repetitive, they swept along with the dense fluidity of 20 Chopin preludes played simultaneously. Silence, when it came, was devastating."
–Daniel Cariaga, The Vancouver Province, February 15, 1973
"Rosenboom, especially, was a revelation: He attacks the keyboard aggressively, a la Cecil Taylor, but with a dancer's sense of subtle dynamics."
–Josef Woodard, The Santa Barbara Independent, October 11, 1990
" . . . as conducted breezily by David Rosenboom . . ." [Referring to a performance of Salvatore Martirano's LON/dons by CalArts New Century Players.]
–Willard Holmes, Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1993
"Conductor David Rosenboom offered exacting guidance through the eclectic half–hour suite." [Referring to a performance of Anne LeBaron's Telluris Theoria Sacra by CalArts New Century Players.]
–Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1997
"The concert was a musical history lesson led by Rosenboom, who guided his audience through the evolution of changes in experimental music from the late 1770s to the early 1990s . . . This is wonderful what he is doing for our symphony . . . widely recognized as a great innovator in American experimental music, . . . Rosenboom demonstrated his own talent and musical genius as a composer with a performance of his original composition Continental Divide . . . Later, the performance of Henry Cowell's Polyphonica was absolutely amazing . . . Finally, Rosenboom's own gradual process piece Continental Divide was performed; its intensity just blew the audience away . . . the Symphony of the Canyons . . . whose work along with the guidance of Rosenboom left the audience in total admiration of their abilities."
–Kim Teaman, Canyon Call (USA), April 3, 2001
". . . In case the Guinness Book of Records is interested, there were 124 performers: five pianos, 11 clarinets and 11 guitars (acoustic and electric), seven trombones among the large brass contingent, 20 singers, a small string section and too many percussion to count. . . . David Rosenboom, the violist on the historic first recording of the piece [referring to a performance of terry Riley's 'In C' in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles], conducted. . . . gained from this 800-pound-gorilla version was an incomparable sense of grandeur, with Rosenboom turning the score into a 21st century concerto for orchestra while nonetheless maintaining a strong sense of authenticity. . . . At times the majesty of the music was astonishing."
–Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2006
". . . The piece was conducted by violinist David Rosenboom [referring to a performance of Terry Riley's 'In C' with 134 musicians in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles]. . . . one of the unexpected joys was following the figures as they made their way through the orchestra, bobbing up and down through the mix like a buoy on rough seas. this gave the piece a range of color and styles not heard in smaller ensembles. . . . the effect was ecstatically life-affirming, as vertiginous and glorious as Beethoven."
–Steven Mirkin, Variety.com, March 21, 2006
Zones of Influence
"Winant dug into the music with grace, his hands tracing the works shifty contours. Meanwhile, Rosenboom was at his station behind a piano and several computer screens activating the live electronic responses to Winant's lithe movements. . . . Winant charmed the intimate phrases into existence with a feathery touch while Rosenboom sent out twisted, slithery sounds. . . . The electronics play a key role, sometimes crackling in the background, sometimes asserting themselves with huge waves of sound. they are also integrated ingeniously with the human performers, as they bounce off key musical themes with algorithmic complexity. . . . 'Zones of Influence' (just out on a new recording from Pogus Productions) ends with a long joyous section, Rosenboom scratching out slides on amplified violin, body swaying like a rock star, . . ."
–Damjan Rakonjac, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2014
"Percussionist William Winant . . . entered the fray fearlessly, while David Rosenboom . . ., composer and electronics virtuoso, presided over the performance from his computer downstage right. . . . Rosenboom's concept for the interactive nature of the electronics was so far ahead of its time that it took almost thirty years for the piece to reach its full potential. . . . At times, the performance felt like a bacchanal as Rosenboom and Winant celebrated the sheer physicality of performing the five-part, ninety-minute piece live. The music manifested with an involuntary magic, . . ."
–Heather Heise, Ampersand, November 6, 2014
"It is a brilliant piece, highly entertaining, with booming firings from all quarter: . . ."
–Joseph Mailander, LA Opus, September 17, 2009
"The production offers lightning flashes of creative brilliance."
–David NG, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2009
"Converging Piano and Theater—Rosenboom adds thrilling technological and visual flourishes to his 'Bell Solaris' —In 1998, composer-pianist David Rosenboom completed a solo piano tour de force, ‘Bell Solaris,’ for his fellow pianist Katrina Krimsky, in a form involving variations on a theme. In an expanded, theatricalized version that he premiered Thursday at REDCAT, he lavishes new variations upon his earlier ones, in visual and technological as well as musical terms.
“Leave it to Rosenboom — the CalArts dean of music, who is also actively engaged in computer music, improvisation and other experimental pursuits — to up the ante of performance possibilities. He aptly subtitles the piece ‘Twelve Metamorphoses in Piano Theater.’
“This time out, he plays one grand piano while triggering a second, unmanned grand piano — through his own software — often creating a thrillingly dense thicket of pianistic sound in the space.
“Too rarely do we get the chance to hear Rosenboom's considerable skills as a pianist, and this work serves as a fine prism for his musicianship. "Bell Solaris" is a virtuosic and layered score, in which passages of discernible tonality and idiom — sometimes even including folk and gospel — are dissected and fragmented.
“Fleeting echoes of Messiaen and Nancarrow pass through, along with touches of Rosenboom's voice as a post-free-jazz player. Amid the density are movements of slow, languid lyricism, palate cleansers for the beautifully crazed sonic onslaughts to come.
“For the REDCAT incarnation, Rosenboom had help on the theater side from CalArts colleague Travis Preston, the school's director of theater and opera. Floors and walls are randomly plastered with huge white sheets of paper against black, evoking piano keys.
“That backdrop becomes entwined with the swirling, collaged projections from a troop of videographers who roam the stage and supply live data. The sum visual effect, at its most intense, can suggest a house of mirrors or the retro phantasmagoria of Fritz Lang's silent film ‘Metropolis.’
“Convergence is the underlying theme of this ‘Bell Solaris,’ in what is ultimately a fairly blissful match between the pure physicality of vigorous piano playing and the more ambiguous layers of data carried through wires and software. Piano theater, indeed."
–Joe Woodard, The Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2005
"A kind of live audio/visual collage, Bell Solaris surprised and captivated its audience with a multimedia feast for the senses. Rather than overwhelming, the show provided a means for the audience to better understand Rosenboom's avant-garde compositions, which might be difficult for the casual listener to approach. Rosenboom's relaxed and animated piano playing was also entertaining to watch; he played with a passion and gusto I know I'll not likely see at a classical piano performance."
–Cindy Valdez, University Times, April 14, 2005
Zones of Coherence and Bell Solaris
"The next performer, David Rosenboom, referred to 'time-space configurations,' 'unstable systems,' and 'sound orderings' in his program notes, but his music also offered more concrete pleasures like intriguing trumpet lines [performed by Daniel Rosenboom in Zones of Coherence] and energetic, Nancarrowesque piano explorations."
–Fred Cisterna, The Brooklyn Rail, January, 2005
"Visible made aural: It strikes a chord — . . . But it took the premiere of an ambitious, entrancing piece by David Rosenboom, 'Twilight Language,' to best demonstrate how mysterious all this eye/ear business really is. I have no idea what Rosenboom is up to in this piece. It connects with Tibetan Buddhism ('The Simultaneous Absence of Silence and Sound' is the title of one of its four parts). It alludes to a 10th century style of Chinese Zen painting known as 'i' ('wildly free gestures so refined as to inexorably convey fundamental forms of nature,' the composer writes).
“Musically, however, 'Twilight Language' is a stunning exploration of the pianistic language. Rosenboom is best known as an improviser who sometimes takes a while to get going, but once he does he draws alluring, even transcendent, washes of sound from the piano. Here there was no wait. Right from the start, Ray produced an aura of awe, hitting a gong to set the mood, rippling across the keyboard to take listeners into another world and producing all manner of wondrous effects. A marvelous percussive dance-like section was played while the strings of the piano were damped. Ravishing waves of otherworldly harmonics sounded like Debussy in the clouds. The piece lasted 15 minutes and, in the very best, time-stopping sense, seemed much longer. [Vicki] Ray's performance was mind-bending."
–Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2005
Portable Gold and Philsophers' Stones
"The resulting spectral harmonic and melodic interplay is quite simply gorgeous, irrespective of the quasi–magical circumstances of its creation; about three quarters of the way through the piece the drones settle on a rich consonance and suddenly, miraculously, all four voices just take off like birds into a clear sky–it's like a quiet, slow[–]motion orgasm, and surely one of the great epiphanies of electronic music along with certain spectacular moments in established masterpieces by the likes of Xenakis and Stockhausen."
–Dan Warburton, Signal to Noise (USA), Spring, 2001
"The result of the playing of pure sound . . . is something almost like electronic improvisation, of which Rosenboom is a great master . . . "
–Gino Dal Soler, Blowup (Italy), February, 2001
"Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones (1972) is an evocation of alchemical symbolism's transcendence of the constraints of time and space . . . "
–Julian Cowley, The Wire (England), March, 2001
"[The] electronic sounds [of Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones] . . . descend and envelop with the delicacy of a full–body wax mold . . . "
–S. Glass, Bananafish (USA), No. 15, 2001
On Being Invisible
"It's music which seems to disclose a universal choreography, the patterns of an evolutionary dance that lies ordinarily beyond sensory awareness."
–Julian Cowley, The Wire (England), March 2001
"The music Rosenboom generates is extraordinarily vivid and captivating; if you're into digital music, you'll want to own a copy of On Being Invisible."
–Jim Aikin, Contemporary Keyboard (USA), October 1978
"On Being Invisible . . . Charmed cobras pluck the ribcage with enough vigor to make the left hand of Fats Waller jealous . . . "
–S. Glass, Bananafish (USA), No. 15, 2001
"At times the music seemed to swirl out and engulf the audience, caressing or attacking the senses at the whim of the performer, then retreating into an introspective study in sound and time . . . His music seemed to flow through the audience instead of around it, involving us all in the performance of a mass experience to an extent as impressive as it was incomprehensible."
–Stephen Elliott, Monday Magazine (Vancouver), March 7, 1977
Predictions, Confirmations and Disconfirmations
"On the last day [of a festival at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)], a glorious few moments in David Rosenboom's Predictions, Confirmations and Disconfirmations (those titles!) with Rosenboom's violin activating a torrent of radiant complimentary sound from the concomitant computers, and the whole thing resounding in audible Technicolor through the cavernous resonance of the big room at Ace Contemporary Exhibitions, should have convinced anyone that some power to exhilarate still lingers on the musical scene."
–Alan Rich, LA Weekly, June 12-18, 1998
Champ Vital (Life Field)
". . . the piece, like much of Rosenboom's writing, is free of fashionable isms which might date it, and the engaging, coloristic mosaic of variations bustles with kinetic, propulsive energy without falling into a groove, as such."
–Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2010
Daytime Viewing (with Jacqueline Humbert)
". . . a blackly comic parody, an acidic critique of TV's effects and, most acutely, a melancholic work about the loneliness of its viewers and inhabitants alike. The sounds are as lush and strange as cocktail music on the edge of the jungle, . . ."
–Charlie Fox, The Wire, August 2013
". . . Humbert's performance is hypnotic, and Rosenboom's lush electronics, conjured on his own self-designed Touché device, manage to sound cheery and eerie all at once."
–Fact, July 10, 2013
Biofeedback and the Arts
"Rosenboom and his collaborators are engaged in work that has profound implications for the creative arts."
–Don Buchla, Whole Earth Epilog (USA), September 1974
" . . . a provocative compendium of proposals and methodology for exploring the biopsychological basis of esthetic experience."
–S.P. Kirst and M. Schuman, Brain Mind Bulletin (USA), September 29, 1976
"This book is a valuable source of information and ideas in this area . . . On the whole, this book is a useful addition to our knowledge of an experimental vanguard of the art and technology movement."
–Arnold Berleant, C.W. Post Center, Long Island University (USA), Ca. 1976
"The implications of Professor Rosenboom's work for the discipline of music therapy are too numerous to list here . . . Whatever the case, music therapists should be acquainted with the work being accomplished by David Rosenboom and his colleagues of the Aesthetic Research Centre of Canada."
–Richard M. Graham, Journal of Music Therapy (USA), Winter 1976
Propositional Music: On Emergent Properties in Morphogenesis and the Evolution of Music
"David Rosenboom's Propositional Music, an earnest and eloquent exposition of the need for cooperative transformation' as a basis for survival . . . " [In book review of Zorn, J. (ed.). (2000). Arcana, musicians on music. (New York: Granary Books/Hips Road)].
–Julian Cowley, The Wire (England), April 2000