Robert Taylor composer
Robert Taylor (born 1931) is an American composer. For several years, his output has comprised works perhaps best characterized as avant-garde computer-music. Previously, he had composed music for an array of acoustic media, including solo voice, string quartet, string orchestra, voice and piano-or-computer, double-orchestra and soprano, mixed chorus, and various chamber ensembles. His works have been performed internationally, in concert and on radio broadcasts. Before turning to composition, from a very young age, he played French horn in a variety of orchestras and chamber ensembles. Private study in composition was with Ernst Krenek, Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt.
The computer has played a pivotal role in Taylor's work. On one hand, as noted below, it has enabled in-depth studies (since 1968) of musical systems and the elaboration of systematic results which would have been impossible by other means. Equally important, the computer has acted both as a generator of sound-materials for compositions, and as a powerful means of the manipulation of those materials in performance. In Taylor's electronic pieces, sound and score-generation are produced, both from "scratch" (using his own version of MusicIV), and from synthesizers (usually four in parallel) under computer-program control and routed by real-time switching devices.
Taylor has devoted much time and effort over the years to the study of musical systems, mainly by means of Abstract Algebra. This has involved extensive programming of computers, necessary for the resolution of questions concerning combinatorial and permutational possibilities within the "Twelve-Tone System" and the musical significance, if any, of these. Early points of departure for these studies were the works of Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Ernst Krenek, and later, Milton Babbitt--in particular the theoretical papers and tutelage of the latter.
In addition to having lived in New York, Los Angeles and the American Midwest, the composer has spent a dozen or so years in Europe, including Rome, Berlin, Utrecht and Paris. Taylor speaks several languages fluently. Although hectic at times, friends and colleagues report that he considers those years an important element in the formation of his Weltanschauung. On his return from a ten-year stay in Europe, he spent five years as Member of Technical Staff at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During that time, he worked on the Viking, Voyager and Galileo space-exploration projects (and financed his electronic studio).
Mr. Taylor now lives in New England.
Recent works (all electronic) include:
- 'America City' for computer and four synthesizers
- 'Canonic Sequences' for computer and three synthesizers
- 'Panick' for computer and four synthesizers.
A major work, score (graphics) currently being completed, is:
Canti per gli innocenti for mixed chorus and soloists, electronic and acoustic instruments.
Texts: Greek Epitaphs, and Sappho, transliterated from the original Greek;
Horace, in the original Latin.
- Robert Taylor's website, where the electronic works listed above may be downloaded, some complete, some in excerpt-form.