Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1945, "BLUE" GENE TYRANNY has lived in each of the four corners of mainland USA. During the late 50's he studied with pianists Meta Hertwig and Rodney Hoare, composers Otto Wick and Frank Hughes, and organized new music events in Texas with composer Philip Krumm, including several festivals at the McNay Art Institute, premiering works by Cage, Corner, Maxfield, Ono and others. After earning a BMI Student Composers Award in 1961, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He performed there in his work and in many other events at the legendary ONCE concerts, while also working as a waiter, sales clerk and statistics coder. During the 60's and 70's, he toured with jazz and rock groups (Carla Bley Band, Iggy Pop, The Prime Movers Blues Band, etc.). From 1971 to 1982, as a Lecturer and Instructor in Music, he taught "Recording Studio Techniques", "Harmony and Counterpoint" (three levels), "Jazz Improvisation and Literature" and served on graduate committees in the Music Department of Mills College in Oakland, California. He also worked as a Technician at The Center for Contemporary Music, a non-profit, community-access facility located at Mills College. He moved to New York in 1983, where he is a self-employed composer/performer: solo and group concerts, audio consultancy, film/video/CD-ROM soundtracks, commissioned work. He has performed extensively in hundreds of concerts throughout the US, Canada and Europe, and also in Mexico and Brazil.
Tyranny has produced, recorded and performed on many albums of other composers' music (Laurie Anderson's "Strange Angels", David Behrman's On the Other Ocean, John Cage's "Cheap Imitation" and "Empty Words", etc.) and he composed the harmonies and piano improvisations for Robert Ashley's opera-for-television "Perfect Lives" (Channel Four, London). He has created over 40 soundtracks for film and video, collaborating on projects with video artists Kenn Beckman and Kit Fitzgerald.
His theater and dance collaborations include works with the Talking Band, Pat Oleszko (Nora's Art, 10 film scores), dancers Timothy Buckley (Proximology, Breakneck Hotel, the PBS-TV short, Endance, etc.), Rocky Bornstein (Labor of Love), the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (The History of Collage), the Creach/Koester Company's I Witness (1995), live electronic music for Stefa Zawerucha's The Black Box (1993) and Curve Ahead (1994), and many of the Otrabanda Company's plays including Brain Café, Re Room and Simpatico. He received a Composer Award at the Bessies (NY Dance and Performance Awards) in 1988, and a Composer Fellowship from the NY Foundation for the Arts in 1989. He was an Artist-in-Residence at Bucknell University in 1992.
His articles on contemporary music include "Music Beyond The Boundaries" with Mark Slobin (Generation, Univ. of Michigan, 1965) and the "20th Century Avant-Garde" section of the All-Music Guide (Miller Freeman Pub., 1993, 1995). His work is the subject of chapters in Cole Gagne's Sonic Transports (DeFalco Books), Soundpieces 2: Interviews With American Composers (Scarecrow Press) and William Duckworth's Talking Music (Schirmer Press). His music in analyzed in Kevin Holm-Hudson's Music, Text and Image in Robert Ashley's Video Opera "Perfect Lives" (unpublished doctoral thesis, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). He also recently completed translations for Kevin Lally's Wilder Times: The Life of Billy Wilder (Henry Holt & Co.), was interviewed for Paul Trynka's Lust for Life: The Iggy Pop Story (Box Tree, London) and appears as a character in Kathy Acker's I Dreamt I Was A Nymphomaniac: Imagining (in Portrait of an Eye, Pantheon Books).
His recent recordings include Country Boy Country Dog / How To Discover Music In The Sounds Of Your Daily Life, a 25-year project for electronics, orchestra and environmental sounds (Lovely Music), Nocturne With and Without Memory recorded by pianist Lois Svard (Lovely Music), The De-Certified Highway of Dreams recorded by the piano duo Double Edge ("U.S. Choice", CRI records), Somewhere in Arizona 1970 for baritone and electronics ("Imaginary Landscapes", Elektra/Nonesuch) and several works on Free Delivery, a selection of his keyboard concerts (Lovely Music). Other recent works include The Driver's Son (1989 work-in-progress), an audio-storyboard for voices and orchestra commissioned by "The Electrical Matter" for the Benjamin Franklin bicentennial celebration, His Tone of Voice at 37 (Empathy) commissioned by baritone Thomas Buckner, The Forecaster for double orchestra, decoding chorus and time-transposing pianist, and The Drifter commissioned by pianist Joseph Kubera.
Other selected compositions include: Three Begins for voice and tape (1958), How Things That Can't Exist May Exist (pieces for alternative spaces, 1958 to the present), Ballad (graph score, 1960), Meditation (graph score, 1961), Diotima for flute, household percussion and electronics (1963), Just Walk On In (theater piece, 1965), Closed Transmission for IBM 7090 computer (1966), "The Bust" from Viet Rock (1967), Archaeoacoustics (1973), A Letter From Home (1976) for voices and electronics, PALS / Action at a Distance (1977), Harvey Milk/Portrait (1978), The White Night Riot (1979), The CBCD Variations for Soloist and Orchestra (for The Arch Ensemble 1980), The Intermediary for piano and computer (1982).