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  Composer Profiles

David Gunn

David GunnDavid Gunn

Listen to this show

David Gunn

for RealAudio3 Interview, 1:21. (RA2/14.4 version)
for TrueSpeech Interview, 1:21.
for RealAudio 2 version of Somewhere East of Topeka, 1:30.
for TrueSpeech version of Somewhere East of Topeka, 1:30.
for MPEG-2 version of Somewhere East of Topeka, 316K.
for MIDI version of Somewhere East of Topeka, 5K.
for RealAudio 3 stereo version of Caccia (Red-Handed), 3:06.
for a special compilation essay, The Wingback Tokamak [from to(roidal'naya) kam(era s) ak(sial'nym magnitnym polem)].

David Gunn studied composition at a big university not noted for its music department, but boy could they do football. Bitter at not making the marching band, he assembled the Well-Tempered Chamber String Band of Greater Columbus, which folded after one performance of his Crapsody. Trouble with his piano studies led to a ghastly haggis dependence and a penchant for wearing mismatched socks. His piano teacher, on the other hand, went on to a marvelous career in the pet food industry.

Gunn is driven to compose music much like stray dogs are driven to the laboratory for scientific experiments. He equates the tunesmithing process with hanging from the ceiling while grappling with an annoyed boa constrictor. Still, he likes naming the pieces, and the eclectically-titled Cowbellies, Khartoumaraca, Wagadoo and Ahmed Lives in Istanbul and Drives a Taxi are well worth hearing.

Gunn is the founding -- and at this point, only -- member of HOOVER, the Humor-Only Orchestra of VERmont, an ensemble whose rehearsal venues demand that he frequently park in tow-away zones. A seasoned organ donor, having given away two Wurlitzers and a Hammond in the last year alone, Gunn figures he will have arrived at the top of the musical heap when he hears his music played in an elevator.

Somewhere East of Topeka Somewhere East of Topeka

A dozen representative musical compositions:

Want to see a full catalog of his published music? Click here .

Leaving Ircam
Unceremoniously Leaving IRCAM

My Views on Compostion

by David Gunn

    Cooking and composition have a lot in common. Cooking is just a matter of dumping a bunch of ingredients into a saucepan, simmering a bit, and voilà: gruel. Same thing with music composition -- a note here, a note there, maybe a rest or two, and presto: the big theme from Cavaliera Rusticana.

    Take yesterday. I had a hankering for some chutney. This was no problem, I'd made it before. You can put darn near anything into chutney and, with a little inventive spice manipulation, it comes out tasting ... if not Indian, at least like it's from some place you've never visited and probably never will (or would want to). I usually start with a fruit base, like apples. Too bad; I didn't have any apples, I only had Bacos, a poor substitute. In fact, the cupboard was nearly bare and I had to make a lot of substitutions. The chutney turned out ... curious. Let's face it, you can only be so creative with a teaspoon of Bacos, a cup of Rice Krispies, some Smucker's grape jam, a can of creamed corn, two packets of Knox unflavored gelatin, five pounds of kosher salt, half a tin of Wyler's imitation lemonade mix, and all the raisins I could pick out of a box of Kellogg's Raisin Bran (maybe a third of a cup). I would've had more but I was trying to rinse the wretched sugar coating off the raisins and half of them jumped down the sink drain.

    But I digress. Wait -- no, I don't.

    Had a hankering for the band theme to end all band themes. So I grabbed a couple of chord progressions from my Walter Piston book (the "E Change"), stirred in a six-eight meter at a hundred and sixty-two beats per minute, gently simmered for, oh, must've been an hour at least, and got sixty-four measures of primo marching, uh, gruel.

    I'm not saying this method will work for everyone. In fact, I'm not saying anything at all, so don't quote me. But if you have a couple of apples and some Bacos wasting away in your freezer, why not give it a try?

    And here's more music news! Did you know that the word "composition" comes from the French word "compost," which is "to make some sweet-sounding singing out of a pile of scat." It's true.

    Okay, I'm done.

To reach the composer:
Telephone: 802-ISOSOGY
Physical mail: 96 Tremont Street, Barre, Vermont 05641