Chris Brown with William Winant and Ben Davis

Chris Brown, composer, electronic musician, and pianist, makes music with self- designed acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments, interactive software, computer networks, microtonal tunings, and improvisation. His early work featured electro-acoustic instruments he created, like the Gazamba (1982) – an electric percussion piano featured in Alternating Currents, (1984), and a computer-controlled analog signal-processor for the environmental sound piece Lava (1992) for brass, percussion, and live electronics. As a member of the pioneering computer music band The Hub he received a 2018 Giga-Hertz Award for Lifetime Achievement in Electronic Music from ZKM. From 1990-2018 he taught electronic music, theory, composition, and contemporary performance practice at Mills College in Oakland as Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

William Winant, percussion,”one of the best avant-garde percussionists working today” according to critic Mark Swed (LA Times, Wall Street Journal) has performed with some of the most innovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, James Tenney, Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, Steve Reich and Musicians, Jean-Philippe Collard, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, Oingo Boingo, and the Kronos String Quartet.

Ben Davis, cello, concentrates on fusing his playing and ideas into a raw vehicle of acoustic expression. Following gigs with Evan Parker, Louis Moholo, Vincent Courtois and Wadada Leo Smith, Ben developed a taste for a freer approach to improvisation, consequently touring and recording extensively with Ingrid Laubrock, Simon Nabatov, and his own group Basquiat Strings, which collaborated with Ellery Eskelin and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize.


Branches (2001) is a piece for piano and two improvising instrumentalists who interact with computer-driven electronics. The score consists of 74 cells of three overlapping rhythms in different meters, each one played through a loudspeaker next to each player who improvises with it. The pianist’s performance is tracked by a Moog PianoBar sensor on the keyboard, influencing the computer to create variations of rhythm, pitch and timbre in each of the channels.
In Branches I chose the metaphor of a tree to structure the way multiple rhythms extend outward from a central pulse, each rhythmic cycle creating its own limbs that phase, overlap and become more complex. The pianist responds to the result, creating a feedback loop (food). The final section is based on samples from DJ Eddie Def’s Hamster Breaks LPs, made for turntable scratching. Thanks to my esteemed collaborators in this performance, the brilliant percussionist William Winant and the virtuoso cello improvisor Ben Davis.