Among the second generation of New York minimal composers, Arnold Dreyblatt has developed a unique and original approach to composition and performance. He has invented a set of new and original instruments, performance techniques, and a system of tuning. Working closely with various ensembles and in theatrical and installation projects, he creates a music with exciting rhythms and rich textures, an exploration of the potential inherent in the natural overtone series. The musicians who have performed with Dreyblatt generally come from vastly varied musical backgrounds and interests - in common, however, is a sensitivity for an approach to music making, sonority and hearing which Dreyblatt has been developing together with musicians over the last twenty-five years. In his former Orchestra, all the members contribute to this music with their own ideas and performance techniques, gradually forming an individual musical role within the ensemble dynamic. Just as this music essentially exists only in performance, the combined acoustic effect results from a sum which is greater than its parts. Arnold Dreyblatt's compostions involve a re-thinking of sound making tools; modified and newly created acoustic instruments are utilized for specific timbral effect and perform in an unusual tuning system. Traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments accentuate the rhythmic character of the music.
Arnold Dreyblatt was born in New York City in 1953. He has been based in Europe since 1984 and is presently living in Berlin. Dreyblatt studied Film and Video Art at the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A. from the Institute for Media Studies) with Woody and Steina Vasulka and later Music Composition with Pauline Oliveros (1974), La Monte Young (1974-76) and with Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University where he received an M.A. in Music Composition in 1982.
From 1979-1997 he was director and composer for his music ensemble, The Orchestra of Excited Strings. The ensemble performed extensively in the United States from 1979-83 and recorded an LP for India Navigation Records in 1982 entitled, Nodal Excitation (IN 3024). In 1984, Dreyblatt moved his base of operations to Berlin where he formed a new ensemble while composer-in-residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. This ensemble has performed throughout eastern and western Europe as well as in the States at numerous festivals, museums, galleries and other music venues. An LP entitled "Propellers in Love" was issued by Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 1985. This recording was reissued by Hat Art Records in 1986 on compact disc along with newly recorded material. In composing a performance opera entitled "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933," Dreyblatt formed a new ensemble in 1991. The ensemble also recorded a number of pieces in New York with clarinetist Andy Statman which appeared on A Haymish Groove, issued by Extra Platte, Vienna, 1992. In 1995, recordings by the ensemble were released by Zaddik Records (produced by John Zorn) under the title Animal Magnetism.
In 1998, his first recording, "Nodal Excitation," was re-mastered by Jim O'Rourke and was released by his Dexter's Cigar label. Also in 1998, Table of the Elements Records released a compilation of Solo and Ensemble pieces entitled "The Sound of One-String." In 2000, the Bang On A Can All-Stars recorded a version of Dreyblatt's "Escalator" for Cantaloupe Records. A complete CD entitled The Adding Machine, also involving musicians from the Bang On A Can All-Stars, was issued by Cantaloupe in 2002.
In 1991, Dreyblatt composed "Who's Who in Central & East Europe 1933" as a co-production between Inventionen '91/DAAD, Berlin and Wiener Fest Wochen, Vienna. He has received commissions from among others: "Ars Electronica", Linz (1988), Oeyvaer Desk, Den Haag (1989), Prime Foundation, Groningen (1989), DAAD- Inventionen '91, Berlin (1990), Werkstaat Berlin, 1991, Podewil/US Arts Festival, Berlin (1993), Bang in A Can All-stars Ensemble, New York (1996), Saarlandischer Rundfunk (2002) and Academy of Art, Berlin (2003), Crash Ensemble Dublin (2005); Austin New Music Coop (2007).
He has been a guest composer at The Music Gallery, Toronto; STEIM, Amsterdam; Het Apollohuis, Eindhoven; K?nstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin and has received numerous Grants and Stipendiums including: Creative Artist Public Service Program, New York (1979-80); Overbrook Foundation, New York (1983-85); Luftbrückendank Stiftung, Berlin (1985); Philip Morris Art Prize (1991); Kunstfonds e.V., Bonn (1992), Kulturfonds e.V., Berlin (1995), Foundation for Creative Performance Arts, N.Y.C. (1998) and Förderpreis, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin (2000).
In recent years, Dreyblatt has been increasingly involved in integrating archival and biographical texts with his sound work in performance and installation. In 1997, he disbanded The Orchestra of Excited Strings, which had been performing continuously in New York and then in Europe since 1979. He began a period of commissioned compositions on the one hand, and occasional solo and smaller group projects. He has worked with the Bang On A Can All-Stars in New York and founded a new Orchestra in 2000 with the assistance of Evan Ziporyn and David Weinstein which resulted in the Cantaloupe CD: "The Adding Machine." Recent Commissions include a String Quartet ("Music for 16 Strings") for the Pellegrini Quartet in Freiburg (2003); "Resonant Relations" for the Crash Ensemble Dublin (2005); and "Kinship Collapse" for the Austin New Music Coop (2007). He has recently been touring with a new solo performance version of Nodal Excitation (1979) and continues to lead composition and performance workshops, such as at the "Music Gallery", Toronto, 2007.