Barton McLean

From Wind Repertory Project
Barton McLean


Barton McLean (b. 8 April 1938, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) is an American composer, performer, music reviewer, and writer.

Dr. McLean graduated from State University of New York (SUNY) Potsdam (BS 1960), Eastman School of Music (MM 1965), where he was a student of Henry Cowell, and Indiana University (DMA 1972). He taught music theory and double bass at SUNY (1960–66), while performing on double bass in jazz groups and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1969-76 he taught music composition and theory at Indiana University South Bend. From 1969-76 he directed the Electronic Music Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1967 he married fellow composer Priscilla Taylor, and by 1974 they began professional touring as The McLean Mix, presenting their electro-acoustic music, which became a full-time occupation by 1983. The McLean Mix performed from 1974 to 2013, presenting their separate works and collaborations across the USA and internationally; in these concerts he played the piano or synthesizer, plus woodwinds, amplified bicycle wheel, invented instruments, percussion, and digital processors.

McLean created a series of solo instrument and stereo tape pieces, best known of which is Dimensions II (1974), championed by pianist David Burge, who performed it extensively for several years. Another extensively performed set in this series, Dimensions III and IV for saxophone and stereo tape (1979) was premiered by Albert Regni in concert at the University of Texas at Austin in 1979.

McLean's music is often based upon processes and sounds of the natural world, while using current electronic and recording technology. The result is considered to have both primitive and sophisticated elements. Barton McLean's signature work is the audience-interactive installation Rainforest created in collaboration with wife and composer Priscilla McLean. It was staged and performed extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia from 1989 until 2013.

In 1994 Dr. McLean was awarded a New York State Council for the Arts grant to create an installation with a nostalgic Ray Bradbury feel, Forgotten Shadows. Currently, McLean is composing with and developing concepts on the Kyma system provided by Symbolic Sound.

Works for Winds