Matthew Goodheart is a composer, improviser, sound artist, and educator who has developed a wide body of work that explores the relationships between performer, instrument, and listener. His diverse creations range from large-scale microtonal compositions to open improvisations to immersive sound installations – all unified by the analytic techniques and performative methodologies he has developed to bring forth the unique and subtle acoustic properties of individual musical instruments. Goodheart’s approach results in a “generative foundation” for exploring issues of sound in relation to physicality, perception, technology, and cultural ritual.
(Read the interview in Exberliner Magazine.)
His work emerges directly from his experience as a performer, which began as an improvising pianist in the fertile Bay Area music scene of the 1990s. With a background in jazz, classical music, and written composition, he began at an early age working directly with such artists as Glenn Spearman, Wadada Leo Smith, Pamela Z, Cecil Taylor, Pauline Oliveros, Gianni Gebbia, Rova Saxophone Quartet, and sfSoundGroup. As his career expanded both domestically and internationally, he became compelled by the interrelationship between instrument design, acoustics, and compositional/ improvisational constraints. Working closely with David Wessel at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at UC Berkely, he developed an electroacoustic practice dubbed “reembodied sound,” which analyzes and samples individual acoustic instruments, imports the data into a variety of software environments to synthesize signals tailored to the specific properties of the source instrument. The results are then recursively played back into the original instruments through surface transducers, causing them to resonant autonomously. Pursuing the possibilities inherent in this recursive technique have provided new directions to his work for over a decade, finding its expression in electroacoustic chamber compositions, algorithmically determined improvisation structures, site-specific sound installations, and binaural fixed-media work.
Goodheart’s work has been featured throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Turkey in such diverse festivals as Neue Musik Köln, MaerzMusik, New York Electroacoustic Music Festival, The International Spectral Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Klappsthulfest, Jazz Ao Centro, The Illuminations New Music & Arts Festival, the New York Electroacoustic Music Festival, and many others. His numerous awards and honors including the Berlin Prize in Music Composition, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, and a Fulbright Grant to the Czech Republic where he worked with the historic quartertone pianos designed by Alois Hába. His work is also featured in Craig Vear’s recent book The Digital Score.
A life-long teacher, he is the Assistant Professor of Music Composition in the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic University.