Emusers Guide to Charlie Morrow and New Wilderness Audiographics

edited April 2018 in whirling dervish
A truely fascinating artist like this, certainly deserves his very own thread. . . . Me thinks.

Charlie Morrow (b. 1942 in Newark, NJ) is a composer, sound artist, performer, and innovator whose goal over the past four decades has been to bring experimental sound and music to a wider audience. And, through avenues including concert performances and ad jingles, city-wide events and film soundtracks, museum sound installations and hospital sound environments, his work has in fact been experienced by a wider audience than most creative artists can claim.

A composer who studied with Stefan Wolpe and worked with avant-garde Fluxus artists in New York in the 1960s, Morrow has written works that range from a sound portrait titled Marilyn Monroe Collage to Toot ‘N Blink, an orchestrated chorus of boat horns with blinking lights, as well as the soundtrack to the acclaimed 1970 documentary Moonwalk One and innumerable ad jingles, including those for Hefty trash bags (“Hefty, Hefty, Hefty! Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy!”) and Diet Coke. In 2010, he was honored in New York with Little Charlie Fest, a five-day celebration of his work presented and organized by Michael Schumacher/Diapason Sound Art Gallery, John Doswell Productions and WFMU FM in association with Steelcase.

A trailblazer in staging large-scale festival events—at which he was always recognizable in his signature bowler hat—Morrow created city-wide summer solstice celebrations in New York City from 1973 to 1989 through the New Wilderness Foundation, an arts organization he founded in 1974 with poet Jerome Rothenberg that promoted cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary art and performance, while exploring relationships between current developments and cultures of the distant past.

And in 1979 he founded Charles Morrow Productions and built a global network for sound explorations. In the 21st century, he created MorrowSound® state-of-the-art technologies—including True3D sound and 360° VR sound (see below)—at the forefront of the rapidly-expanding field of immersive sound. His work in the creation of sound environments is currently showcased in venues worldwide, including the Magic Forest & Aviary at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; Marimekko’s New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue; SC Johnson’s corporate headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin; and the Hall of Planet Earth in the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

As a 2013 KALW radio documentary put it, “How did the son of two New Jersey psychiatrists come to be known as ‘the man in the bowler hat’—sound artist, impresario, and catalyst for creativity for so many others?”

Charlie Morrow calls himself a “framemaker”—a creator and producer of context.  His life’s work – 50 years as a hybrid, with one foot each in the classical and commercial music worlds – has been devoted to, in his words, “moving out of the concert hall.  The future lies in composing environments as well as music as we know it:  bringing the skills of composition to where we live work and circulate, as in a city.”  Born to a family of doctors and inventors, Morrow uses his creativity to make tools to share with others—not only musicians and sound artists, but teachers, architects, and engineers –  “so that they might create positive spaces for work, education, and healing.”

The Charlie Morrow Archive in Barton, Vermont, now houses Morrow’s  scores, writings, designs, correspondence, media, publications and artifacts.

Toot! – Charlie Morrow, a 3-CD compilation of Charlie Morrow’s compositions, 1957-2007, was released by XI Records in 2010.

7706C - Hour of Changes​.​.

New Wilderness Audiographics 1977

"Regulated Spontaneous changes within a flow."

Charlie Morrow, New York composer, chanter, and producer, was also artistic director of the New Wilderness Foundation. Twice a CAPS winner, his work has been performed at Alice Tully Hall ("An Evening with the Two Charlies: Ives and Morrow" 1973), on Little Neck Bay off Queens ("New Wilderness Cross-Species Event for Fish," 1974), at Dartmouth College and Cooper Union ("The Western Wind" 1974, 1977), The Museum of Modern Art (Summergarden, 1975, 1977), and many times at Washington Square Church and elsewhere. He is also known for his work as a writer and producer of jingles for TV and Radio.

"In these chants, Charlie Morrow moves over new ground into the oldest habitation of man's breath and voice: the exploration is very intense, very extended. He is teaching us a language that predates language, that grows as a language itself must have grown in the music of the first shamans and poets. For this is very much a poet's music: attentive to voice and to syllable, projecting them out where they can enter the process of healing and of waking in our own lives... I admire Charlie Morrow's concerns and his accomplishments. I rejoice to see him stalking his own voice as it leads him to what must be some of the most remarkable music of our time." -Jerome Rothenberg, Anthologist of a Book of Testimony, Shaking the Pumpkin Ritual: A Book of Primitive Rites and Events and Technician of the Sacred.

"I have always loved secret codes. As a kid in New Jersey, I became a ham radio operator. Music was the ultimate secret code, and I used it as a language to communicate with people through the unique situations that composing a piece for someone would provide. The occasion was magic and still is, as magic as the music itself.

"Jerome Rothenberg inspired me to do a personal music using my voice after I recorded him singing his total translations of Navaho Horsesongs.

"I had been asking people to get in front of the mic in my studio and do half-hour uninterrupted transmissions - mixtures of self-reflection, free association, silence, and complaints.

"So I got myself in front of the mic and chanted three times on a Saturday. These early chants involved elaborate studio schemes to make them tasks I could keep my mind on excitedly. Late Afternoon Chant and Evening Star Chant are from this group.

"In workshops, particularly those with Richard Schechner's Performance Group, I explored healing via singing and synchronous breathing. The nonverbal language I used was my own secret code. But others seemed to understand and be able to create their own. We evolved "A Healing Piece." (See "The Painted Bride Quarterly", Vol. 2, no. 4, shop at that time in my mind was purging and manifestly emotional. The testimony of the celebrant/storyteller/patient is typified by Drum Chant.

"Later work focused on synchronized breathing as a communication and mutual experience of internal states. Breath Chant is a madrigal of breathsounds, designed to stimulate interest in breathmusic and encourage relating via breath.

"As chanting evolved the voices within my voice, my personal cast of characters, personal deities, came forth. I have used them in stories, in improvised dialogues, for self exploration, to underscore looking at the world of nature, as well as to tune my mind into my dream channels. The assortment of chants in Healing Chants comes from this work.

"In an Hour of Changes minutes are counted aloud, and the chanters have to change characters off the top of their heads, smoothly and without self conscious reflection.

"Recent chanting involved one to one performances while Chanting for Visions. I do not listen to the voice but follow the mindscreen and use the voice as a control. The music is less predictable, my observers find, than when it is done with self listening."
 -Charlie Morrow, December 1977 


  • From Bandcamp Daily in 2016:

    The Rare Recordings of Pauline Oliveros, Jerome Rothenberg and More

    New Wilderness Audiographics, a US-based label founded by 75-year-old composer/poet Charlie Morrow, hasn’t released music for over three decades, but the label has just unloaded digital versions of 40 rare, mostly unknown cassettes. Originally recorded and released in the 1970s and early ’80s, the astonishing collection features music by such luminaries as Pauline Oliveros, Phil Corner, and Jerome Rothenberg. These works—many of which were recorded in the same high-quality, on-site studio—cover broad stylistic ground, including everything from conceptual improvisations and process-based Indonesian gamelan performances to wild vocal experiments and even songs composed purely from resonating metal objects. But while Morrow dug into the past in order to digitize these cassettes for the future, his interests have always been contemporary. The label’s name, New Wilderness, is meant to signify a source of “perpetual renewal and new ideas,” and Morrow sees this digital release as a extension of his latest interests. His most recent work was a 24-hour multi-stream, multi-time-zone solstice celebration called Solstice 2016 , which featured poetry, music, and natural sound performed in planetariums and sky theaters around the world. And when Morrow‘s not organizing large-scale events like this one, he’s exploring immersive sound environments through his eight-speaker “True3D” system, and through 360 virtual reality experiences designed for the Oculus VR.

    To celebrate the digital release of these original cassettes, we spoke with Morrow about his rare collection of music, his relationship with technology, and the future of New Wilderness Audiographics. We also chose five intriguing releases from the label to help ease you into this otherwise daunting collection. . . .

  •  httpsi1sndcdncomartworks-000069621448-ucafkg-t500x500jpg

    One act opera sung by rock star, Dave Brigati with the voice of his mother, band with trumpet and percussion. This is live performance recording is from Town Hall, New York, April 26th, 1968.
  • edited April 2019
    Here's a brilliant Charlie Morrow album released in march 2018 on Recital Program:
    (and actually the album that triggered this thread)

    - "It is with such pleasure that I introduce the first vinyl LP by composer/event-maker Charlie Morrow.  Toot! Tooculls performance recordings from 1970 to 2014.  It focuses on his Wave Music series, which are compositions based around swarms of like-instruments; i.e. sixty clarinets, conch choruses, and an army of drums and bugle horns, etc. A personal favorite is the 1978 piece, “100 Musicians With Lights,” which was performed at dusk in Central Park. One hundred players (brass, reeds, percussion) congregate and march in spiral formations, playing their instrument with penlights attached to them.  The piece dissipates and ends as each player marches through the park to their respective homes.  The sound is fascinating; a tape recording made by an audience member swirling and dancing through the performance.

    Charlie is an organizer: one of instruments, with the pieces that landed on this LP and dozens more; one of events, through decades of public Solstice celebrations across the world; one of publications, including New Wilderness Audiographics and EAR Magazine; and, one of friendships as Charlie has kindly introduced me to many fascinating players in this quirky game of ours.  He views networking as an art form, always connecting friends with other friends, building a larger web for us to dance throughout.

    In working on this LP over the past years, Charlie Morrow and I have become close. It has been a joy to have him in my life. At the age of 73, he is determined and creative and as positive as ever. Each time we speak, new projects arise – like a mysterious soup boiling up fresh aromas. One of my favorite memories with Charlie was us staying up ’til the wee small hours of the morning drinking a bottle of sweet potato shochu, me listening to him tell funny and poignant remembrances. I am happy to share these lovely recordings, just a pinky toe in his artistic footprint, but wow, such a gorgeous toe!"

    - Sean McCann

    100 Musicians with Lights (1978)" from Toot! Too LP

    Conch Chorus And Bagpipe (1981)" from Toot! Too LP

    Charlie Morrow and Sean McCann

  • From ensemble 0 (for radio) by _Stéphane Garin _Catherine Luro + guests

    20''_Central Park 1850 (2007)_Charlie Morrow 
    3'48''_Drummer_Noah Creshevsky  
    9'37''_Windsong (1997)_Charlie Morrow 
    13'01''_Sonata_Noah Creshevsky  
    18'55''_Chorale Bounce 2 (2007)_Charlie Morrow 
    21'53''_Pulp Fiction_Noah Creshevsky  
    29'11''_A Future Harvest - Vocalise (2001)_Charlie Morrow 
    31'56''_Chorale Bounce 1 (2007)_Charlie Morrow
  • Well, I wonder how it's possible this is the first time I've seen this thread.
    Thanks for the revisit & putting me on to ensemble 0.

  • edited August 2020
    Dear Friends,
    First off, we would like to extend an enormous THANK YOU for your support last month. We were able to raise over 2,500 dollars to support our intrepid archivist, Jay Walbert. Money well deserved, without his work this whole operation would be left underground.
    To celebrate the extension of Bandcamp Friday, we have a special release of a world premiere performance of a Morton Feldman composition entitled “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country”. The piece was written for, and performed by Charlie Morrow in Helsinki on February 4, 2018.
    We will premiere the piece tonight at midnight with included PDF transcription and performance footage, alongside a second round of the discounted discography. If you missed out on our ludicrous deal last month, here is your next chance. Same as before, all proceeds will go to the archivist.
    Stay tuned, as we are strategizing ways to bring new material, including multimedia releases to the Audiographics Bandcamp site. Hears to the future!
    -NWAG team

  • Charlie Morrow:
    Morton Feldman’s Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country - February 4 2018, Helsinki

  • Recital, October 23, 2020
    - "Charlie’s music has a melody and depth to it that I feel is absent from a lot of avant-garde music. His keen interest in all musical styles seem to inform this harmony. Charlie’s drive to interconnect people and ideas is contagious and affirming, and working with him has been one of the pleasures of my life. We have forthcoming releases in 2021 by Alison Knowles, Jerome Rothenberg, and a box set of the 1980 International Sound Poetry Festival."
    -Sean McCann, Sept. 2020
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