c o u n t r y w e s t e r n

photo taken by zjw 2007


Zachary James Watkins studied composition with Janice Giteck, Jarrad Powell, Robin Holcomb and Jovino Santos Neto at Cornish College. In 2006, Zachary received an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College where he studied with Chris Brown, Fred Frith, Alvin Curran and Pauline Oliveros. Zachary has received commissions from Cornish College of The Arts, The Microscores Project, Beam Foundation, Somnubutone Radio Series, sfsound and the Seattle Chamber Players. His 2006 composition Suite For String Quartet was awarded the Paul Merritt Henry Prize for Composition and has subsequently been performed as part of the Labs 25th Anniversary Celebration and as part of the Labor Sonor Series at Kule in Berlin, Germany, the later of which the live recording is being released by the London new music label Confront. Zachary has presented works in numerous festivals across the United States and in Berlin Germany including the Internationales Klankunstfest 09, Sounds Outside Festival, the 2007 Bent Festival in Los Angeles, the 2006 International Computer Music Conference, the 10th Annual Music For People and Thingamajigs Festival and the second Biennial SJ01 Global Festival of Arts on the Edge. In 2007, Zachary premiered a new multi-media work entitled Country Western as part of the Meridian Gallery's Composers in Performance Series that received grants from The American Music Center and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts. An excerpt of this piece is published on a compilation album entitled The Harmonic Series along side Pauline Oliveros, Ellen Fullman, Theresa Wong Charles Curtis and Duane Pitre among others. Zachary received a Subito of California Grant to assist in the production of the evening length composition movable, long commutes between loved ones, music for motors and resonant strings written for piano in just intonation and a newly invented piano extension called the "Piano Monster" built in collaboration with NYC artist Ranjit Bhatnagar. This work premiered on April 2nd 2010 by pianist Tiffany Lin at the Chapel Performance Space as part of the Wayward Music Series in Seattle, WA and sponsored by Nonsequitur. Zachary designed the sound and composed music for the plays "I have loved Strangers" produced by Just Theatre, which was listed "top ten of 2007" in the East Bay Express and the 8th Annual ReOrient Theatre Festival. His sound art work entitled Designed Obsolescence, "spoke as a metaphor for the breakdown of the dream of technology and the myth of our society's permanence," review by Susan Noyes Platt in the Summer 05 issue of ARTLIES. ITCH, Walrus Press and the New York Miniature Ensemble have published the graphic score found print piece no.1. During October of 2006, Zachary was an artist in residence at the Espy Foundation. Zachary is currently a Lecturer of Music at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

country western

Aquarius Records Review

As the title truthfully advertises, this is a compilation of avant-garde compositions all incorporating Just Intonation in some way, shape, or form. While the liner notes go into great detail as to the specifics that define Just Intonation, the trademark sound of Just Intonation is the harmonized buzz that's found equally in Tony Conrad's abraded viola and the angelic choirs of Gregorian chants. Many 20th Century composers had incorporated such tunings as a stance against the Twelve-Tone tuning practice which had become the standard operating procedure for Western composition during the previous 200 years or so. We won't go too much into the musicological details, but we will say that this is a nice primer, featuring Pauline Oliveros, Michael Harrison, Ellen Fullman, Charles Curtis, Greg Davis, Zachary James Watkins, and others. The highlights are found in Greg Davis' very nice Andrew Chalk impersonation through his network of low-end frequencies, Michael Harrison's extract of buzzing piano chords (which, it must be said, is an extract from his amazing Revelation album), and the bellowing horns which ground Zachary James Watkins' track. Curated by Duane Pitre.

country western

[we are never born in this Country we die facing Western :: there wasn't much color when we were not born :: the saturation was not optical it was emotional :: they showed us brightness they showed us darkness does the universe register my vote does it compare to a kiss or a blast? what is the difference between your past and my future. this magic story is governed by mist. mourn for how we are never born never voted never Country mourning just like this Western light]
by Margaretha Haughwout

I want to thank my collaborators: Shayna Dunkelman (Percussion), Kanoko Nishi (Koto), Noah Phillips (Prepared Guitar), Emily Packard (violin), Theresa Wong (Cello), Aram Shelton (Bass Clarinet / Soprano Saxophone), Andy Strain (Trombone), Dennis Somera (Voice / Poetry), Zachary James Watkins (Laptop / Network), Joe Gray (Video / Network), Luke Seldon (Supercollider Programming) The Meridian Gallery, Margaretha Houghwout for inspiration and poetry, The Norman Conquest (Engineering / Mixing) and Myles Boisen (Mastering). Country Western was funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center and by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

Country Western employs a 27 tone just tuning shared by the 4 string instruments. For the recording, I created a delay line using two 2-track tape machines (one as record and the other as playback) as well as tape delay simulation that I co-designed with Luke Seldon using the Supercollider programming software. Both processes were performed in real-time during post-production.

Country Western premiered at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco on April 9th, 2008. Meridian Gallery is well known for their experimental composers series whose performances often include a video or digital animation element. The gallery is also active in local at-risk youth education and providing exhibition opportunities for under-represented artists and artistic forms. In performance, video was added as an additional improvisational instrument by visualist Joseph Gray, a California native and Washington state resident. The performance tool created focused on ethereal texture fields whose origin are photos I took of earthen landscapes in the American West.

New works often begin with the invention of a tuning. My tunings investigate whole number interval relationships. I create tunings to experience new harmonic territory, periodicity, composite waveforms, resonance and texture. Rich resonances and textures are achieved through the exploration of the harmonic series, live electronic sound processing, site-specific resonant spaces and the spatial diffusion of sound sources.

151 Marine Parade #4 Santa Cruz, CA 95062