Maxwell Tfirn is composer and performer based in Newport News, Virginia, where he holds the position Director of Composition and Creative Studies at Christopher Newport University. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Virginia, an MA in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, and a BM in Music Education as well as a performance certificate in percussion from the University of Florida. He also performs live improvised noise music using digital and analog electronics. Outside of his music, Maxwell creates digital glitch photography that uses audio concepts and synthesis as a means of image manipulation in Supercollider. Maxwell has had works performed at ICMC, SEAMUS, Electro Acoustic Barn Dance, Society of Composers, FEAST Festival, Technosonics, N_SEME, and Subtropics Music festival and was a featured composer for Share and more. His music has also been performed by Jack Quartet, Loadbang, MehanPerkins, Dither, Ekmeles, The New Thread Quartet, percussionists I-Jen Fang, pianist Seung-Hye Kim and Kenneth Broadway. Maxwells percussion ensemble piece Gentle Rain on Delicate Wings can be heard on the album Speed of Sound, recorded by the UVa Percussion Ensemble. He has studied with Judith Shatin, Anthony Braxton, Ted Coffey, Matthew Burtner, Paula Matthusen, James Sain and Ronald Kuivila.
Currently Maxwell is working on a collection of graphic scores that utilizes spectral analysis for content. These scores are hand written and use various shapes, sizes, abstract graphic and techniques to create form, improvisation and aleatoric layering of sound. In addition, Maxwell has started building a sensor based controller for live sound manipulation using concepts behind digital spectroscopy.
Apart from Maxwells music research, he is currently working on a National Science Foundation grant titled “Exploring Beyond Visualization: Data Sonification of Bacterial Chemotaxis Patterns”. This research studies sonic possibilities for tracking and understanding chemotactic behavior. We are looking at a method that I created for turning microscope video into sound that can analyze events that the human eye cannot discern.
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