This page contains postings on compositions, performances and press.

Interview from Victoria Times Colonist


Lafayette String Quartet concert series dedicated to pioneer composer David A. Jaffe

Text copied here...

NOVEMBER 4, 2013 01:39 PM

When David A. Jaffe set out to write his newest composition, he started by looking backward. The American composer has made a name for himself as a pioneer of electronic music, but as a teenager he occupied his time exploring the worlds of folk, bluegrass, jazz and classical music. Fox Hollow, which makes its world première Friday at Open Space, is an attempt to evoke the atmosphere of a music festival of the same name that he attended during that time in upstate New York.

“It was particularly magical because, for one, they had no electricity at all. So all the concerts were in a natural amphitheatre and people were just very quiet and listened under the stars,” said the resident of Berkeley, Calif.

Read More

Computer Music Journal Review of "Wildlife"


Here is a review of the CD "Wildlife, and other works combining instruments and computers," from Computer Music Journal, Volume 36, Number 3, Fall 2012.

David A. Jaffe: Wildlife

Reviewed by Ross Feller
Gambler, Ohio, USA

David A. Jaffe's Wildlife is a compact disc you will want to listen to repeatedly. It offers four works that successfully combine live instruments and the computer to create a fascinating, kaleidoscopic mixture of virtual, and real, materials and sounds. Jaffe is a prolific composer who has written orchestra, chorus, and chamber pieces, as well many electroacoustic pieces, including the well-known Silicon Valley Breakdown, composed in 1982. His approach to composition owes debts to innovative American composers such as Henry Brant, Carl Ruggles, and Charles Ives. Jaffe is also a skilled mandolinist and violinist, and often performs in his own compositions. He is a triple threat as composer, performer, and computer programmer.

Read More

Press : Musical America


At Other Minds, Anything (Still) Goes
By Georgia Rowe
March 8, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - Every year about this time, the Other Minds Festival of Contemporary Music brings composers and performers from around the world to San Francisco for a week of residency and three nights of unabashed music-making. The results are always eclectic, and frequently revelatory; under Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian, this year's edition - Other Minds 16 - demonstrated that new music thrives, and that this city remains a mecca for artists, iconoclasts and free thinkers.

Amirkhanian has an uncanny ability to identify important composers of the future while honoring the past; programs are divided between talent on the rise and new music's established composers. The first two concerts, March 3 and 4 at Kanbar Hall, featured Louis Andriessen and Han Bennink (from the Netherlands), I Wayan Balawan (Indonesia), Agata Zubel (Poland); Kyle Gann, Janice Giteck and David A. Jaffe (U.S.) A third concert, on March 5, offered additional works by Andriessen, Gann and Jason Moran.

A decided high point was the world premiere of "The Space Between Us," Jaffe's tribute to Henry Brant's pioneering work in spatial music. The composer's 20-minute opus places two string quartets - the Del Sol String Quartet, and members of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble - on opposite sides of the hall, while a percussionist onstage (Andrew Schloss), sends remote electronic signals, via radio drum, to a piano, two xylophones and an array of overhead chimes (the installation was by Seattle composer/inventor Trimpin).

Jaffe's score introduces richly textured, eerily prolonged voicings from the strings, which are interrupted by urgent, rhythmic phrases tapped out by percussion. As the work moves toward a poised, luminous conclusion, the instruments seem to reach out to one another, as if longing for connection. The performance stretched the mind and beguiled the ear.

Read More

Press :


A real winner emerged among the contemporary compositions at the Other Minds Festival March 4, more than I had bargained for in an otherwise indifferent program.

The world premiere of David Jaffe’s “The Space between Us” was a felicitous linkage of acoustic/instrumental music with electronic sounds, the most successful we’ve encountered all this season. Like a rising tide, it lifted up the entire festival, which was littered with an array of indifferent pieces and improvisations ranging from predictable to ludicrous.

“The Space between Us” was spatial music, with a phalanx of string players ringing the audience, countering the electronic sound on stage coming from electro-percussionist Andrew Schloss, who made the piano play---look, no hands!---just by waving a wand over a sensor across the stage.

Watching a disclavier piano play by itself, without keyboardist, is disconcerting, to say the least. If there was a ghost in the house, it was that of the late Henry Brant, the spatial composer par excellence, to whose memory the work was dedicated. In the spatial mode, a chamber orchestra’s worth of string players was scattered all about the audience at Kanbar Hall, often performing a string chorale, with the audience fairly drowning in rich harmonic sound. Jaffe relishes restless themes in a diatonic way, spreading this feast out over 25 minutes, with equally rich applause at the end from a healthy crowd.

Read More

Computer Music Journal Review by Brad Garton


Review of "David A. Jaffe: XXIst Century Mandolin: Acoustic and Computer Music for the Mandolin," Computer Music Journal, 1994.

Reviewed by Brad Garton, New York, New York, USA.

The mandolin occupies a unique musical space-from Vivaldi to Stravinsky, its sparkling soprano timbre has colored many 'classical' compositions. To most contemporary listeners, however, the sound of a mandolin evokes images of a Dublin pub or a bluegrass festival in southern Indiana. For me, the mandolin seems to exist in all of these worlds simultaneously, evoking an interpenetrated! pan-stylistic musical universe. David Jaffe shares this multi-dimensional conception of the mandolin, stating that his early experience of his father's mandolin playing gave him "a taste for permeating the boundaries that separate musical styles." Mr. Jaffe discovered that "by combining diverse, seemingly irreconcilable stylistic elements, [he] was able to uncover a rich dynamic source of musical expression."

'XXlst Century Mandolin' is a tour de force demonstration of that "dynamic source of musical expression." The CD contains four large works: two for acoustic instruments (mandolins, of course) and two computer-generated pieces (with decidedly mandolin-like timbres, primarily using the Karplus-Strong algorithm and digitized mandolin fragments. Each of these works is a coherent melding of a range of compositional and performance styles, with results that are truly unique.

If I were asked to summarize David Jaffe's music in a single word, it would have to be, 'different.' I don't mean this as a dismissal of his music (in the way that many use the adjective 'interesting', for his compositions display a musical virtuosity that is highly original -- there's the 'difference' -- and often quite moving.

Read More