Michael Boyd

Photo by Lisa Boyd

Michael Boyd is a composer, scholar, and experimental improviser who currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, and holds graduate degrees from the University of Maryland (DMA, composition) and SUNY Stony Brook (MA, music theory). He performs with the Bay Players Experimental Music Collective, a group of composers/performers dedicated to boundary-pushing music created during the second half of the twentieth-century and beyond - in this ensemble, he plays trombone, electric bass, computer, and found objects. An active road and mountain biker, Boyd works on bicycle infrastructure and advocacy issues at Chatham and in his community. He is also an elected member of the Wilkins Township Board of Commissioners. In 2012 he was named Bike Pittsburgh's Advocate of the Year, and in 2013 he was one of the Pittsburgh Magazine/Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project "40 Under 40" honorees.

Artistic statement:

I believe that every individual possesses significant innate creativity, but, for various reasons, rarely access this valuable personal resource. As a composer, one of my foremost concerns is countering this societal trend by helping individuals connect with and use their inner creativity. One way in which I address this issue is by (re)integrating performers into the creative portion of the music making process through graphic notation which immediately sheds many conventions of Western art music including the primacy of pitch and a roughly one-to-one correspondence between score input and sonic output. In addition to enabling non-specialists and musicians with lesser technical facility to offer viable or “accurate” performances, graphic scores provide greater creative agency to performers essentially resulting in an equal partnership between composer and performer(s). This configuration, paired with my interest in other experimental practices such as the incorporation of visual and theatrical elements, performance-based installation, live electronics and performance art, confronts many musical conventions and thus engages audience members in new ways, often presenting an experience that is both engaging and challenging.

Recent Compositions

invasion/symbiosis (IV) (2014/in progress) electro-acoustic sound and optional video

black out the windows (2015) for 5-8 performers of any type

I wouldn't eat the strawberries... (2015) for instrumental and/or vocal trio

Confessional (2014) - a user-driven audio and visual installation

Study 7b (2014) - stereo electro-acoustic sound

Becoming...again (2014) for one or more performers

Replication [VC] (2014) for solo cello

isolation/feedback [SD] (2014) for snare drum quartet

Primitive (2014) for voice and percussion

OBJECTIFICATION [cc1] (2014) for chamber string orchestra

Replication [CB] (2013) for solo double bass

Replication [CBCL] (2013) for solo contrabass clarinet

Bob's Party (2013) for instrumental and/or vocal quartet

invasion/symbiosis (III) (2012) electro-acoustic sound

invasion/symbiosis (II) (2012) for (optional) trombone and electro-acoustic sound

the ongoing process (2011-12) for laptop duo

this inversion is expected to persist (2011) a pre-concert performance installation

invasion/symbiosis (I) (2010) for trombone and electro-acoustic sound

isolation/feedback [SAX] (2010) for saxophone quartet

cooperation/convolution (2009) for medium to large instrumental ensemble

Reconstruction (2009) for solo performer with found object and live electronics

isolation/feedback [TBN] (2009) for trombone quartet

Twelve Actions (2008-09) for solo performer

Breaking that awkward silence (2008) an elevator installation for solo performer

isolation/feedback (2007-08) for string quartet

Friday May 18 (2007, with S. Lilly) a multimedia event for three or more performers

Assemblage (2007) for solo performer with found objects and live electronics

Bathroom 1900 (2006) a collaborative, site-specific work with three dancers

Bit of nostalgia... (2005-06) for one or two percussionists and live electronics performer

Becoming...everything else (2004) an installation for three or more performers

Hand Leg Suit (2003) for mixed instrumental ensemble

Carnival (2003) stereophonic computer-generated sound



invasion/symbiosis (III) on SEAMUS Electroacoustic Miniatures 2012: Re-Caged 2013

Bit of nostalgia... on Axiom: Society of Composers Inc. CD Series, Navona Records 2011


Selected Composition Performance Venues

Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States National Conferences (2011, 2010, 2007)

Society of Composers, Inc. National Conferences (2013, 2010, 2009)

Society of Composers, Inc. Regional Conferences (2013, 2009, 2007)

College Music Society National Conference (2008)

London New Wind Festival (2015)

Oberlin PlayFest (2015)

UNK New Music Festival (2015)

University of South Florida New-Music Festival (2016, 2014)

Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music (2013, 2010)

Studio 300 Digital Art and Music Festival (2011)

Electroacoustic Barn Dance (2015, 2011)

Tempus Continuum Ensemble (2013)

Vox Novus 60x60 (2014, 2013)

The Composer's Voice: Fifteen Minutes of Fame (2013)

Fifth Floor Collective (2013)

American University (2009)

Studio Z (2009)

Bang on a Can Marathon (2009)

12 Nights of Electronic Music and Art: Beauty, Horror and Silence (2009)

Juventas Music Inc. (2009)

Gettysburg College (2012)

Appalachian State University (2008)

Art Enables (2008, 2007)

University of Maryland Baltimore County (2008, 2007, 2005)

Electronic Music Midwest (2015, 2007)

Artomatic (2007)

Towson University (2007)

Flashpoint Gallery (2004)


Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“Liner Notes: Roger Reynolds’s imAgE series.” Roger Reynolds’s imagE/imAge (compact disc). Neuma Records, 2015.

Becoming…everything else: Situating Performance in Public Space and Daily Life,” Perspectives of New Music, Winter 2014 (52:1): 57-80.

“‘Weird Al’ Yankovic,” Grove Dictionary of American Music 2nd ed., 2013.

“American Composers Alliance (entry update),” Grove Dictionary of American Music 2nd ed., 2013.

“Jackson Mac Low (entry update),” Grove Dictionary of American Music 2nd ed., 2013.

“Robert Erickson (minor entry update),” Grove Dictionary of American Music 2nd ed., 2013.

“The Evolution of Form in the Music of Roger Reynolds (II),” Tempo, April 2012 (66:260): 34-49.

"The Evolution of Form in the Music of Roger Reynolds (I)," Tempo, January 2012 (66:259): 36-48.

“The Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress,” Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, March 2008 (64:3): 435-57.

“Perception/Form: Thomas DeLio’s Though for solo piano.” In Essays on the Music and Theoretical Writings of Thomas DeLio, Contemporary American Composer, ed. Thomas Licata. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008, 165-85.


“CD and DVD Review: Thomas DeLio’s Selected Compositions (1991-2013) and space/image/word/sound,” Computer Music Journal, Spring 2015 (39:1): 88-90.

“Book Review: Catherine Strong’s Grunge: Music and Memory,” Popular Music and Society, May 2013 (36:2): 289-92.

“Book and CD Review: Source: Music of the Avant-garde, 1966-1973 and Source Records 1-6, 1968-1971, Computer Music Journal, Spring 2013 (37:1) 73-75.

“DVD Review: SPACE/SOUND: Multichannel Electroacoustic Music,” Computer Music Journal, Winter 2011 (35:4): 103-05.

“Book Review: John Luther Adams’s The Place Where You Go to Listen: In Search of an Ecology of Music,” Computer Music Journal, Summer 2011 (35:2): 92-95.

“Event Review: SEAMUS 2010,” Computer Music Journal, Winter 2010 (34:4): 74-75.

“CD Review: Amnon Wolman’s The Marilyn Series,” Computer Music Journal, Spring 2010 (34:1): 111-12.

“CD Review: Matthew Ostrowski’s vertebra,” Computer Music Journal, Fall 2009 (33:3): 68-69.

“Book Review: Dr. Dre: A Biography, John Borgmeyer and Holly Lang,” Popular Music and Society, February 2009 (32:1): 134-37.

“CD Review: Dexter Morrill’s Music for Stanford,” Computer Music Journal, Fall 2008 (32:3): 108-10.

“Event Review: SEAMUS 2007,” American Music, Winter 2007 (25:4): 521-23.

“Book Review: Cybersounds: Essays on Virtual Music Culture, ed. Michael Ayers,” Popular Music and Society, May 2007 (30:2): 289-92.

“CD Review: Neuma’s Electro Acoustic Music VII,” Computer Music Journal, Spring 2007 (31:1): 98-100.

“Book Review: A Rock Reader, ed. Richard King,” Popular Music and Society, February 2007 (30:1): 117-19.

“CD Review: Roger Reynolds’s all known all white and Process and Passion,” Computer Music Journal, Summer 2006 (30:2): 99-102.


Refereed Lecture and Conference Paper Venues

NUNC Northwestern University (2015)

UNK New Music Festival (2015)

University of South Florida New-Music Festival (2014)

American Musicological Society Allegheny Chapter Meetings (2015, 2011, 2010, 2008)

Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference (2009)

College Music Society National Conference (2008)

Society for American Music and Music Library Association Joint National Conference (2007)

Society of Composers, Inc. Regional Conferences (2007, 2006)

American Musicological Society Capital Chapter Meetings (2006, 2005)

McGill University Music Graduate Students’ Society Symposium (2006)

Play!: Contemporary Composition, Technology and Listening (2005)


Bob's Party
Bob’s Party (2013) is a quartet for performers of any type, most typically (but not limited to) musicians, that focuses on inter-ensemble dynamics. Individuals interpret text and graphic images to create innovative performance gestures, and shape these gestures to reflect the activities of other performers. The pacing of the piece and the resulting global form results from events that occur during performance and each individual’s understand of those events. The total result is a unique, continually evolving sense of ensemble.

This recording features the Tempus Continuum Ensemble.

the ongoing process
the ongoing process (2011-12) is a work for two live electronics (laptop) composer-performers who employ recordings of their own compositions as the source sound material for a given performance. Responding to a series of network-based graphic images, each performer manipulates and shapes the presentation of their own work while also interfering with and distorting the activities of the other.

This recording features Stephen Lilly and the composer.

invasion/symbiosis (III)
Realization instructions: Create A Gem of an Electro-acoustic work to be played back over two or more channels. Choose a total duration for your finished product. Record sounds in and around your home including, but not limited to, automobile traffic, “nature,” and mushrooms cooking (note that if you do not eat or cook mushrooms, this piece is probably not for you). The number of different sounds recorded should be equal to the number of 15” units in your chosen total duration. Use chance operations of your choice to determine the following: 1) how many times a particular sound source will appear (between 1 and half of the number of 15” units), 2) which 15” sectors will feature these appearances (and which will not), 3) the duration of each appearance (between .5” and 7.5”), 4) the point at which the given sound will initiate within a 15” sector, and 5) whether each individual sound will begin and end with a sudden or gradual envelope (these are separate determinations). Sources should be evenly distributed amongst all available playback channels. Once all determinations are made and the process is fully completed, assemble the piece. Do not modify sounds – accept them as they are (volume may be adjusted slightly). Do not fear silence, even when it lasts for an uncomfortable amount of time.

This work is featured on the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States's Electroacoustic Miniatures 2012: Re-Caged (available online). The recording featured here is a different, slightly longer realization of the work.

cooperation/convolution (2009) recasts the manner in which large instrumental ensembles such as an orchestra are organized. Typically such groups are hierarchically arranged, with a single individual, the conductor, holding the position of greatest importance and select other individuals such as the concertmaster and principal players having secondary, tertiary, etc. levels of authority. In many ways this structure reflects notions of how society should be and is organized, though both in society and hierarchically configured ensembles holding a position that is nearer the bottom of the hierarchy can be alienating. In daily life this organization is realized through variations in salary, education opportunities, housing choices, access to clean water and air, availability of higher quality food, and so forth. While such tangible and significant disparities are not part of ensemble dynamics, the presence of a hierarchical structure in large musical groups reinforces this societal norm. In cooperation/convolution all performers exert equal influence within the ensemble, sonically interpreting graphic images and shaping these interpretations so that they relate in various ways to the activities of certain other performers. Thus the ensemble members are placed into groups of five or six that communicate through a variety of topological systems drawn from computer networking, and these groups interact to create the total ensemble.

This recording is by the Clarke University Wind Ensemble from the 2013 Society of Composers, Inc. Region V Conference.