Senn, Dan

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Dan Senn


Born: 1951

Country: USA

Studies: University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, University of Illinois, Urbana

Teachers: Salvatore Martirano, Ben Johnston and Herbert Brün


Dan Senn (Prague-Watertown) is an intermedia artist working in music composition, kinetic sound sculpture, experimental and documentary film. He has been a professor of music and art in the United States and Australia. Dan travels internationally as a lecturer, performer and installation artist living in Prague where he directs the Echofluxx festivals, and Watertown, Wisconsin, the USA, with his partner- collaborator, Caroline Senn. Dan's work moves freely between expressive extremes and languages depending upon the aesthetic joust at hand. He studied music (composition, French Horn, conducting) and art (ceramics) at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse with Truman Daniel Hayes, Leonard Stach and William Estes, and at the University of Illinois, Urbana (composition), with Salvatore Martirano, Ben Johnston and Herbert Brün. His music is published by Smith Publications of Baltimore. His work for "Any Three Treble Instruments In the Same Key," called "Rivus," was released in 2015 by Ravello Records, along with works by Scotto and Cage and performed by the McCormick Percussion Group. In 2017 his work "Four Psams Modal" was premiered by the Kuhn Choir of Prague, and his "Seven for Piano" was premiered in February 2017 by Caroline Senn in Wisconsin. Dan founded Newsense-Intermedium of Tacoma, Washington, and cofounded Roulette Intermedium of New York City. He is the artistic director of Echofluxx which he cofounded along with Anja Kaufmann in 2011.

SalMartiranoDanSennKenPohlman75Dan trained as a French horn player and vocalist going to the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse in music education. In the fall of 1971, he studied raku pottery, an ancient ceramic method which fundamentally shifted his aesthetic outlook and in 1971 he built his first sculptural instrument, a "Scrapercussion" sound sculpture, and soon after began developing software to emulate the raku ceramic process in musical compositions which, like his instruments, exhibit the peculiar paradox of raku—that is, highly considerate, non-linear systems which exist, in part, to block the will of the artist as a means to discovery. Since 1971 he has kept personal journals, a practice working its way into his performance, film work (begun in 1992) and installation work on many levels. (Photo of Dan Senn, Sal Martirano and Ken Pohlman, 1975, touring at SUNY-Stony Brook: click to enlarge.)

For numerous years his sculptural instruments have centered on the development of automated instruments controlled using sub-audio frequencies. His pendulum-based instruments, for example, are energized using fixed and algorithmically generated subaudio scores which vary in size from 18"x18"x18" to outdoor versions covering 600sf. Subaudio frequencies have also been used to inflate objects, to move percussion mallets and the wings of birds, etc. These are sometiimes integrated with Dan's ethnographic and installation videos.

Dividing time between Watertown and Prague, Dan regulary tours Europe and the U.S. exhibiting and performing at festivals and experimental venues. In April of 2017 his Four Psalms Modal will be premiered by the Kuhn Choir of Prague at the Czech Nation Museum. In 2016 his Kinetic Cowboy installation was in place at DADS Galerie in Liberec, The Czech Republic. In 2014, Dan was in residency at Marshall University as part of the Birke Symposium's "Art in the Information Age" where he presented new film, an installation of his kinetic sound sculpture and several of his compositions performed including his Mass For Heavy Rail. In 2013, he was a featured guest at the IN/OUT Festival in Gdansk Poland where he performed his lyde and paper instruments, and presented new films made in collaboration with Caroline Senn. In 2011, he co-founded the Prague-based Echofluxx festivals with Anja Kaufmann. In 2008, Dan co-founded Cascadia Composers, along with David Bernstein, in Portland, Oregon. In 2002, his documentary film, The Exquisite Risk of Civil War Brass, won at the da Vinci Film Festival in Corvallis, Oregon. His scored music is published by Smith Publications, Sonic Arts Editions, and AM Percussion Publications. In 1998 he won the prestigeous sculpture prize at the Papier Bienale at the Leopold Hoesch Museum, Düren, Germany. In 1997 he was awarded the Artist Trust 10th Anniversary President's Award (Seattle) for his influence on the arts throughout the Pacific Northwest, and in 1998 became the first Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington at Tacoma. Biannually, from 1995 to 1999, Dan produced the higly original Six Exquisite International Sound Art Festival in collaboration with organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 1995 he was awarded the McKnight Composer-in-Residence Award for the State of Minnesota where, among other projects, he produced the Catacombs of Yucatan Sound and Video Installation within a remote limestone cave located in the southeastern corner of that state. His recorded music is available from the artist direct, Experimental Musical Instruments, Sounds We Are Now and Periplum Records. He lives in Prague, The Czech Republic, where he founded and directs Efemera of Prague (Echofluxx festivals), and in Beaverton, Oregon, where he cofounded Cascadia Composers. Dan also founded Newsense-Intermedium of Tacoma, WA and cofounded Roulette Intermedium of New York City.

Documentation has been a important part of Dan's work harkening back to his student days when he was producing extravagant events as a graduate student at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The Efemera organization was initiated by Dan as an umbrella for this documentation and production interests which include his International Space Band work, the Condon Collection of Australia, Cascadia Composers events, Echofluxx festival documentation, Newsense Intermedium events, and even those productions from his years as a Professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. While attendance to his edgy Echofluxx festivals in Prague, compared to well-financed festivals of a similar sort, may be only in the hundreds, the thorough documentation, which he does mostly by himself, reaches many, many thousands world-wide ongoing online.

Dan Senn has a doctorate in Music Compositon and Ceramic Sculpture (minor) from the University of Illinois where his principal instructors were Salvatore Martirano, Ben Johnston, and Herbert Brün. At the UW-LaCrosse he studied art with Leonard Stach and music composition with Dr. Truman Daniel Hayes. He has been a Lecturer in Electronic Music at the Canberra School of Music in Australia, an Associate Professor of Composition at Ball State University in Indiana, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.[1]

Works for Percussion

Peeping Tom - from the Noble Snare Vol. 2 - Snare Drum