Artist Catalog

Newband

Formed: August 23 1977
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Newband

Newband is a contemporary music ensemble devoted to the performance of microtonal music. The group was founded in 1977 by musicians Stefani Starin and Dean Drummond. As a youth, Drummond performed with maverick composer Harry Partch in a unique ensemble of microtonal instruments that Partch designed and built himself; Drummond performed in the premieres of Partch’s Daphne of the Dunes, And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma, and Delusion of the Fury, as well as on both Partch Columbia Masterworks recordings made during the late 1960s.

Inspired by Partch's example, Drummond began to invent instruments of his own, creating the "zoomoozophone" and "juststrokerods," metal instruments tuned to subsets of Harry Partch's 43-tone microtonal scale. After Partch's death in 1974, Partch's instruments had fallen into disuse and disrepair, being used only occasionally for revivals of Partch's compositions. In 1990, Drummond acquired all of Partch's instruments for Newband. With assistance through residencies at the State University of New York at Purchase (1990-1999) and at Montclair State University (1999-present), Drummond was able to insure and repair all of the instruments, duplicating many of them with new materials.

The Partch instrument collection is now the largest component of Newband, and these instruments are used for performances and recordings of Partch's music. Combined with traditional acoustic and electronic instruments as well as those developed by Drummond, Newband also commissions new works, including Julia Wolfe's Steam, three works by Elizabeth Brown, and many works by Drummond.

As part of their residency at Montclair State University, Newband offers courses to college students that are based around the special instruments of Newband's ensemble, including "Microtonal Music Ensemble" (for which students may compose new works), a study of Partch's life, instruments and musical theories, and "Music Instrument Repair and Invention," in which students replicate Partch's instruments and develop new instruments.