Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans.
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-05-14
Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1948, and started playing guitar as a teenager. While at York College in the 60s, he started his first band, and later moved to Boston to study theater. He moved to New York in 1976 intending to work in experimental theater, though he was also intrigued by the burgeoning punk scene.
He founded Neutral Records in 1982, releasing the first album by Sonic Youth, among other artists. He started composing for ensembles of electric guitars in the early 80s as well, starting with Lesson No. 1, and his first full length album was The Ascension (1981).
He invented a number of instruments to play his music, mostly electrified string instruments, and formed The Glenn Branca Ensemble to perform his works. He also composed for orchestra, though the electric guitar remained his primary focus.
In February 2015, Branca's second piece for 100 electric guitars, "Symphony No. 16 (Orgasm)", was premiered at Cité de la Musique in Paris. On May 14, 2018, his wife announced on Facebook that he had died of throat cancer.
Filed under: Obituaries
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Wendy Carlos - Switched-On Bach & The Well-Tempered Synthesizer – Given the limitations of the synthesizers available in 1968, the choice of Bach as a focus for Wendy Carlos’s pioneering recordings makes perfect sense: the instruments could play only one note... (2002) » Read more
Various Artists - Higher and Higher: A Tribute to the Moody Blues – Given their influence on the genre, the Moody Blues are a great subject for progressive bands to cover and I’m surprised something like this hasn’t already been tried. But leave it to... (2007) » Read more