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
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