5.5 Questions for Mark Trayle

Mark Trayle

What led you to the kind of music you play?

Curiosity.

Who are some other musicians and/or artists you admire and why?

That’s always a difficult question to answer, because that list changes all the time as I discover or rediscover music and musicians. So, in late June of 2014: James Tenney – his piece Fabric for Ché was the inspiration for most of what you’ll hear in this concert. I’d heard this piece a few times before but it didn’t capture my imagination until about a year ago. It woke me up. Maryanne Amacher – I was fortunate to be her assistant back in the mid-80’s when she produced an installation at Capp Street Project in San Francisco. I think that for her, sound was a living, breathing, entity. She treated it with the kind of care and inquisitiveness that you’d treat an alien lifeform. She was a scientist and a magician.  Wadada Leo Smith – I’ve taught with him at CalArts for about 16 years now. I’ve learned a lot from him.

What has been your approach to composing music that will be presented in the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s gallery space along side the Robert Swain exhibit?

I tend not to make “pieces” anymore. I have a sonic palette I work with and when the need arises a certain performance or variation of that material will be given a title. That being said, for this performance I made a change to the way I perform with my current palette. I started with the material I used for Laminariae (premiered at REDCAT this April past). Inspired by Tenney’s Fabric for Ché, it’s very active and ‘colorful’. In this performance I’ll be ‘pixelating’ it, adding edges to the usually smooth (albeit quick) transitions in sound.

Can you discuss the relationship between light and sound as it pertains to your SMMoA piece or your work in general?

That relationship is most apparent in my installation work. I usually work with a direct correlation between sound and image. Either the image is controlling the sound (through software) or vice-versa. (You can see/hear some of these on my website, http://marktrayle.com).  For this event, the relationship is rather more impressionistic.

What is next for you?

I’m wrapping up a number of recording projects… mostly solos and duos. It will be a summer of editing and looking for labels to release them. I’ve also got a couple of installation projects in progress.

Please pick a favorite or stand out clip/track from our archives and tell us why you chose it:


Tetuzi Akiyama – because that concert was a lot of fun.


So was the improv workshop (1) he held in Eagle Rock, great to play with friends old and new.


James Tenney, Welcome Inn Time Machine – because I love those pieces, and I love that period of sonic exploration.

(1) soundShoppe, June 25, 2006

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