Double-Bass Virtuoso lectures, performs worldwide on Access Grid

Robert Black actively contributes to the evolution of music. Eager to explore ways contemporary music can be interpreted through the sounds of a single instrument, the double-bassist has become renowned as an artist testing the flexibility of musical conventions.

Black brought his experimental sense of today’s music, along with his double bass, to the ARSC Discovery Lab for an unaccompanied performance and lecture which was broadcast worldwide on the Access Grid.

A prolific recording and performance artist, Black has cut a number of albums, collaborated with dancers, painters, poets and people who beat tin cans with sticks, always driving further into the musical nexus loosely defined as New Music.

New Music is a broadly defined genre, contemporary work by living people. Rooted in the sprawling evolution of classical music, current works use similar instruments but avail themselves to the sonic, harmonic and melodic tools of today. Where Bach may have conceived of certain answers to his compositional questions, today’s composers have entirely different routes through the process of creative expression.

“The really cool thing about New Music, people are creating it today,” says UAF music professor and music department director Scott Deal. “It isn’t pop, you can’t turn on the radio and hear it. It is real, it is now, it is relevant.”

Black works within the world of these modern-day musical magicians to sort through his performance repertoire, commanding his double bass to step outside the conventions of acceptable playing practices. In doing so, he bends the line between his instrument and the conventional sounds it has historically been used to produce.

With a special interest in working with young or emerging composers, Black’s work spins from interpretations of traditional arrangements, invocations of the hypnotic modern compositions of Phillip Glass and John Adams, and free improvisation.

-Lorien Nettleton

Arctic Region Supercomputing Center PO Box 756020, Fairbanks, AK 99775 | voice: 907-450-8600 | email:

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