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Ben Grossman


“Taste is the Great Enemy”: An Interview with Ben Grossman

Ben Grossman is a musician, composer, and improviser living in Guelph, Ontario. From a young age, Grossman spent his youth building homemade synthesizers, effects and tape loops and playing electric guitar in his parents’ suburban basement and with various groups in warehouses around Toronto. Through percussion and his interest in non-equal tuning systems, Grossman became involved in the study, performance, and recording of traditional Turkish, Arabic, Irish, Balkan, and French music. In 1997 he studied Turkish music in Istanbul, and since taking up the vielle a roue, aka, the hurdy gurdy, he has done workshops and lessons with some of the most renowned artists working in contemporary and creative music today.

Ben has over 80 CD credits, and has performed and recorded with many ensembles over the years. In the past he’s toured with Loreena McKennitt while continuing to work on other projects, developing a solo performance practice and working in improvised, ad-hoc ensembles. His first solo album, Macrophone was released in 2007 and features a unique two CD form for simultaneous, aleatoric playback.

For this month’s Oral History, ICASP researcher Paul Watkins sits down with musician, composer, and improviser Ben Grossman. They discuss Grossman’s musical influences, the hurdy gurdy, general approaches to music and aesthetics, innovative music creation, the Silence concert series and space, and building community. This month’s Oral History also includes a collaboration between Grossman and Watkins (DJ Techné). Coming soon…

The full transcript is available, here.

Photo of Ben Grossman by Paul Watkins

Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace