Barton McLean has experienced both the academic and the professional worlds of the composer, having had a 20-year teaching career in theory/composition 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 and sampler, and with his wife Priscilla produced 14 recordings, some of which have become staples in electronic music courses. In 1983 he and Priscilla left academia to develop their electro-acoustic duo The McLean Mix, which has proven itself in hundreds of concerts and installations throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Pacific Rim.
Barton McLean’s music is characterized by the integration of nature 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 the recent sound/light project the “Sparkling Light Console.” A signature McLean Mix collaboration, Rainforest Images, has been released on compact disc by Capstone recordings. 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. The two most recent CD releases have been his Song of the Nahutal and Etunytude on CRI, and Ritual of the Dawn, Forgotten Shadows, and Happy Days, also on CRI, both funded with grants from the Virgil Thompson Foundation. Of the four ‘signature’ Capstone recordings, Ray Tuttle writes in classical.net: “Again and again, The McLean Mix comes up with awesome sounds and textures — and I mean ‘awesome’ quite literally. Even though this is modern music that places communication with a non-specialist audience high on its agenda, listeners will get no free rides from it. They’ll have to put aside their prejudices and hear it for what it is.”
Most recently, Barton and Priscilla have collaborated 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 over 100 recent 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, and at the Universiti Malaysia – Sarawak.
Barton McLean is also a widely-published and respected writer and lecturer on various aspects of composer issues, esthetics, and music technology. Articles originally published in journals such as Perspectives of New Music, Leonardo Journal, SEAMUS Journal, Electronic Musician, SCI Newsletter, Sounds Australian, Music in New Zealand, and others featuring various composer issues can be read on his Web site.
From What Might Happen To Your Music After You Die and What You Can Do About It
by Barton McLean
© 2001 NewMusicBox