John McCowen’s musical life has become an obsession with discovering a polyphonic language on a historically monophonic instrument – the clarinet. This has led him to a unique acoustic vocabulary that is similar to a shifting soundscape of electronic feedback.
John’s multiphonic approach is based in drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to showcase the compositional potential within a single, acoustic sound source.
Praised by The New Yorker and The Wire, he transitioned from playing in the American DIY circuit to pursuing classical clarinet pedagogy with contemporary clarinet pioneer, Eric P. Mandat, now teaching improvisation in Reykjavík. John remains stubbornly dedicated to acoustic phenomena. His works do not utilize amplifier feedback or electronically-generated sounds unless specified.