Arbor Vitae — Rétrospective James Tenney


A pioneering figure in post-war composition, James Tenney’s works reflect a deep curiosity about the properties of sound and their perception by listeners. His compositions investigate ideas of just intonation (Clang), perception (For Ann (Rising)), stochastic elements (Music for Player Piano), information theory (Ergodos), graphic notation (Postcard Pieces), computer music (Analogue #1: Noise Study), collage (Collage No. 1 (Blue Suede)), and what he called “swell” (Koan: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion). He composed more than 50 works including orchestral, chamber, vocal, piano and electroacoustic music.

Tenney was also an accomplished pianist. He co-founded the Tone Roads Ensemble and played with Harry Partch, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, among others. He contributed significantly to the development of music software and created a large amount of computer music. He was an influential teacher and he taught composition at York University from 1976 to 2000.