Kyle Eugene Gann (born November 21, 1955) is an American professor of music, critic and composer born in Dallas, Texas. As a critic for The Village Voice (from November 1986 to December 2005) and other publications he has been a supporter of progressive music including such Downtown movements as postminimalism and totalism. As a composer his works fall generally into three categories:
Of particular importance in most of his music is the concept of repeating loops, ostinatos, or isorhythms of different lengths going out of phase with each other; the idea leads to simultaneous layers of different, mutually prime tempo relationships in his Disklavier and electronic works, and is used in a less obvious structural way in his live-ensemble music. This concept can be traced back to suggestions in the rhythmic chapter of Henry Cowell's book New Musical Resources, but is also related here to inspirations from astrology, into which Gann was drawn by the writings of composer/astrologer Dane Rudhyar
Another thread in his work is the influence, both rhythmic and melodic, of Native American music, particularly that of the Hopi, Zuni, and other Southwest Pueblo tribes. These tribes have in common a technique of shifting back and forth between or among two or more tempos within a song, the shifts sometimes correlated to dance movements. Starting in 1984 with his political piece The Black Hills Belong to the Sioux, Gann adopted a method of switching between different tempos (usually between quarter-notes, dotted eighths, triplet quarters, and other values) as a more performable alternative to the simultaneous layers at contrasting tempos that he had sought earlier under Charles Ives's influence. Ironically, other composers had arrived at a similar technique via other routes, coalescing into a New York style of the 1980s and '90s called Totalism.
A common Gann strategy is to set a rhythmic process in motion and use harmony (mostly triadic or seventh-chord-based, whether microtonal or conventional) to inflect the form and focus the listener's attention. Gann's microtonal music proceeds according to Harry Partch's technique of tonality flux, linking chords through tiny (less than a half-step) increments of voice-leading. In 2000, Gann studied jazz harmony with John Esposito, and began using bebop harmony as a basis for his non-microtonal music, even in contexts not reminiscent of jazz. (read more at Wikipedia)
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