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Matt Davignon


"When you get various instruments together, and you start getting adventurous about how you generate sound, that's when you can start hearing new sorts of music ...."
-- Matt Davignon
View Spark segment on Matt Davignon. Original air date: July 2006. (Running Time: 9:36)

Oakland-based musician Matt Davignon has become a fixture in the Bay Area's bourgeoning experimental music scene. Since the early 1990s, Davignon has been captivating audiences by fashioning compelling soundscapes using sound textures and arrhythmic patterns, as well as processed and found sound. Spark checks in on Davignon as he orchestrates Soundwave/Live Play at the noted San Francisco experimental art space, Artist's Television Access (ATA).

Experimental music has a reputation for being difficult and inaccessible; some experimental composers have even argued that experimental music's historical inability to gain a wide audience is a mark of its success. Coming from a background in industrial and noise music, Davignon was surprised to discover that the Bay Area's experimental music scene has a prevalence of acoustic instrumentation, which he had begun to use in his own compositions. Over the years, Davignon has worked hard to create soundscapes that simultaneously stretch perceived notions of composition and create music that is both interesting and pleasurable for the listener.

Live Play is the first event of the Soundwave series of experimental musical events organized by promoter Alan So. The event at ATA combines acoustic and electronic performances all improvised to a montage of found footage selected by Sarah Lockhart of 21 Grand, Oakland's center for experimental composition. Invited to be guest curator for the event, Davignon put together three groups of Bay Area musicians to improvise soundtracks for an experimental film, including the duo Myrmyr, Luz Alibi/Mr. Marauder, and a quintet composed of Moe! Staiano, Kanoko Nishi, Lance Grabmiller, David Michalak and Davignon himself.

Matt Davignon has developed a unique form of improvisation over the last 10 years. Combining acoustic and electronic elements, he attempts to create dynamic, biological music from seemingly limited source material. Since 2003, he has been working with the drum machine as a primary instrument, processing the sounds with several devices to create a unique sound palette. Davignon uses turntables, prepared guitars, cassette tape recorders, looping devices, and an assortment of household objects and toy instruments in his performances. He has organized events such as the San Francisco Found Objects Festival and Sound/Shift Oakland.

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