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Thread: R.I.P. composer/guitarist Glenn Branca

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Burlington Twp, NJ

    R.I.P. composer/guitarist Glenn Branca

    Branca has passed away from throat cancer at the age of 69:

    Last edited by Dan Roth; 05-15-2018 at 11:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Fluffy Cloud
    Yeah, man.
    I as a HUGE fan back in the day.

    I saw him in 2010 in DC and he was still really great.
    Last edited by Steve F.; 05-14-2018 at 07:34 PM.
    Steve F.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    "The older I get, the more I realize that cynicism is just realism spelled wrong."

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  3. #3
    Jesus...this is a tough one.

  4. #4

    That blows. Never had (or sadly, seized) an opportunity to see the man but enjoyed his work. RIP.
    Ephemeral Sun - because I gotta do something about these boxes of CDs in the basement:

  5. #5
    That is sad, I know we use the term 'original' quite loosely round here, but he truly was an original. I love it when experimental music actually sounds great - and his was awesome.

  6. #6
    Boo! walt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Oakland Gardens NY

    Saw Branca and friends at The Kitchen(NYC),circa 1982.This composition is what was indelibly etched in my memory from that evening,along with Branca's super animated conducting.

    Last edited by walt; 05-15-2018 at 06:13 AM.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

  7. #7
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Eastern Sierra
    Sorry to hear this. Rest in peace.

  8. #8
    Bummer. Which of his Symphonies is the Entry Symphony ?

    Wherein one can peruse all manner of Digital Artwork & Photography. . .

  9. #9

    The only work I own from him are 2 or 3 tracks on the soundtrack for The Belly of an Architect, which is mostly composed by Wim Mertens.

  10. #10
    I just got this email from a friend. I wasn't a fan but thought it was interesting a musician would give a 50 guitar concert.


    "I remember enthusiastically playing his music for you in Japan. More recently I grew to dislike him and much of his music altogether. Still, hearing he died was like hearing an old friend died. I listened to his “symphonies” a lot in graduate school. I’d have his music on while making kanji flashcards and doing Japanese homework. No one I ever met liked his music, save for a guitarist-composer I knew indirectly in college.

    When the world-famous Kronos Quartet came to KU one year, I met privately with the lead violinist, David Harrington, whom I had met several years prior in high school when I did a small feature on Kronos for our high school TV news program. I asked if he had ever heard Branca’s music, and he said no but he had heard of Branca and was very interested to hear his music. So I gave him a tape of Branca’s Third Symphony, backed with some compositions by that guitarist-composer named Craig. Years later Branca wrote a string quartet for Kronos. I can honestly say I was the one who introduced Kronos to Branca’s music.

    Though I rarely listen to Branca’s music anymore, I’m still impressed by the sounds he got out of his homemade instruments and electric guitars."


    (I'd say the same thing he wrote at the end.)

  11. #11
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Divided Snakes of America
    Sad news indeed. My (perhaps personal mythic) impression is that he was a true original guided only by his inner muse and without regard to fame or fortune.

    P.S. Thank you dear God for your perfect divine plan which includes throat cancer, childhood leukemia, hideous birth defects and all the other wonders of your creation.
    There are more stars in the visible universe than there are grains of sand on planet earth.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post

    P.S. Thank you dear God for your perfect divine plan which includes throat cancer, childhood leukemia, hideous birth defects and all the other wonders of your creation.
    God also seems to have created chain smokers...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    We remember Glenn Branca who sounded his last overtone on May 13. We go back to an episode of Totally Wired in the Echoes Podcast.

  14. #14
    Member Socrates's Avatar
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    Sep 2014
    The Land of the Fripp
    Quote Originally Posted by KGHofSF View Post
    Bummer. Which of his Symphonies is the Entry Symphony ?
    Maybe the 6th? 5 movements that are quite different in feel, albeit all dominated by Branca's dissonant electric guitar clusters.

  15. #15
    I remember reading an article about him in Keyboard magazine in the late 80's. I had actually already knew who he was from reading about him in Guitar World and Guitar Player (though, actually, it wasn't until much much later that I actually got hear his music). Anyway, apparently, there was a point in the 80's where he was starting to develop tinnitus, from the high decibel volume levels needed for his guitar symphonies. Apparently, when you have like 50 or whatever guitars going at tinnitus inducing volume levels, psychoacoustic phenomena occur that don't happen when you play at reasonable volume levels. If I remember correctly, Rhys Chatham's work from that era is predicated on the same principle.

    Anyhow, so being concerned about his hearing, Branca started looking for ways to get similar at lower volume levels. One of these, I believe, involved a harpsichord, with a pickup on the "wrong" side of the bridge. So when you play a note, instead of hearing the normal sound of a harpsichord, you just get the harmonics from the other side of the bridge, which I gather gave him a sound close to what he got from having all those guitars going at triple forte volume.

    I have the understanding, though, he later went back to the high decibel stuff.


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