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Anthony Tan

Composer - Pianist - Electronic Musician

Personal Statement

Currently, my music investigates:

in betweeness


ancillary sounds

tension situations

genre space

Concert Projects

And/OrTurning Point Ensemble
00:00 / 17:24

Instrumentation: large ensemble and electronics

Program Note: This work explores the micro-synchronicity within a pulsation to create timbral and musical situations that are:

organic and/or synthetic,
mechanical and/or lyrical,
symmetrical and/or asymmetrical,
integrated and/or separated,
on-the-beat and/or off-the-beat,
a space where opposing concepts coexist, or not.

Observing the Ph(r)aseEnsemble Recherche
00:00 / 09:15

Instrumentation: Flt., Ob., Clar., Pno., Perc., Vln., Vla., Vc.

Program Note: "this is warm snow"

Un/DividedEnsemble Experimental
00:00 / 20:48

Instrumentation: Alt. Flt., B. Clar., Gtr., Perc., Vla., Vc.,  Mezzo Sopr. and Live Electronics

Program Note:  In William Faulkner’s 1939 novel The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem), he presents two independent stories that alternate with each chapter. The stories never meet on a narrative level. Yet on a conceptual and thematic level, I perceived a certain unity between them. This idea served as a metaphor for the relationship between the ensemble and the electronics. The electronics include a fixed ‘tape’ part that is temporally and sonically independent from the instrumental ensemble. Thus, when played together, many of the relationships that might evolve may seem circumstantial. Yet at the same time, I hope a certain unity emerges within the mind of the listener. Furthermore, undivided represents another word for completeness or wholeness, As such, I reflected on the un/dividedness within the mind, between the body and the mind, between an organism and the environment, and between the listener and the listening experience.

OntheSensationsofTone_IINew Music Concerts Toronto
00:00 / 15:48

Instrumentation: B. Clar., Ob., Hrn., Pno., Perc., Vla., Vc.,  Db., and Electronics

Program Note:  This is the second work in a series that draws its title from Hermann Helmoltz’s classical acoustics text: On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music (1863). This book combines physics, physiology and psychological aspects of listening in order to explain the origins of musical notions of harmony and dissonance. In this series I am exploring a more physiological experience of sound, moving beyond historically conditioned notions of consonance and dissonance, and towards the ear becoming an active participant in the listening process rather than a submissive sense organ. Moments of ‘music’ become interspersed with sonic ‘situations’, whereby tension arises through the simultaneous juxtaposition of timbral qualities, suggesting a timbral counterpoint. Furthermore, I explore the evolutionary expectation of source sounds, the natural physiological responses of the ear (beatings, and virtual fundamentals) to certain acoustic stimuli, and the use of repetition and contextual placement of sounds to distort musical memory.

Pose IV: In SituNoam Bierstone
00:00 / 17:50

Instrumentation: Prepared Piano, and Electronics

Program Note:  The piano represents a culturally ‘heavy’ musical instrument, which makes it very difficult to divorce its timbre from historical associations. By writing a piano piece that only a percussionist could play, new performative and timbre approaches to this instrument become explored. This work uses the entire physical body of the piano, not just the timbre produced by playing the keys, as a timbral and musical source. Through the use of mallets,  the interaction created between the physical contact of a prosthetic object against the piano. The percussionist acts as an exciter, probing and exploring this sound structure in situ, or "in position." Here, catalyzed formants and electronic feedback processes take place within situations of calming intensity. Furthermore, the electronics metaphorically serve as a microscope expanding sounds contained within. More specifically, using spectral filtering and pitch shifters,  pitch orientated contrapuntal lines within the spectral structure of the piano timbre are explored.

Ksana IIEnsemble Contemporaine de Montréal
00:00 / 15:13

Instrumentation: for 10 intruments

Program Note:  Ksana defines a Sanskrit word for ‘moment’. This moment can be considered a single mental experience or literally a measurement of a chronological instant. I began a triptych of works that explores this concept of ‘moment’ from various musical perspectives. Within this second iteration I explore the ‘moment’ from a microscopic point of view. One may consider the entire work as a representation of a single moment, or a single impulse, that was temporally stretched and internally observed. This single moment, however, contains within it, many musical ‘situations’. I composed each situation as an object in which gestural, ambient, discursive, and energetic processes occur, presenting, hopefully, a series of musical situations contained within a single moment.

Theoretically, this work is a prolational or mensural canon, often deployed in Renaissance music, whereby melodic streams of different rhythmic proportions become simultaneously juxtaposed. Instead of a melody of pitches, however, I use a series of timbre structures, creating a timbre ‘melody’. With each instrument having a timbre ‘melody’ and simultaneously layered with other instruments, we achieve a multi-layered textured stream whereby an ensemble / emergent sound occurs. Furthermore, by presenting horizontal constructions at different temporal proportions, I intend to create multiple temporal perceptions and perhaps lead the listener to the experience of a timeless whole.

BardoEnsemble Recherche + Les Cris de Paris
00:00 / 08:56

Instrumentation: 2 Male Voices (Tenor and Bass), Oboe and Cello

Program Note:  Bardo, a Tibetan term, defines a liminal or intermediate state between two existential planes. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, after death, one’s consciousness is taken through numerous bardo states and exposed to various images, deities, and karmic mirrors, leading the consciousness to its resultant rebirth or to enlightenment. My goal was to create a musical experience of one’s consciousness pulled between bardo states. Furthermore, during the death process, a monk reads a sacred text to the deceased as a guide through this bardo state. This text is known as, “The Great Liberation through Hearing.” From this text, and other mantras, I assembled the text for this piece imagining as if the voices were heard within, guiding the consciousness to its karmic goal.

VerschmelzungStereo Mixdown from 8-channel version
00:00 / 12:42

A study on timbre building through additive strategies and perceptual fusion.

Horizontal and Vertical Forces IStereo Mixdown from 8-channel version
00:00 / 07:30

This work explores both sequential and simultaneous grouping principles defined within Auditory Scene Analysis (Bregman, 1990). Synchronicity, harmonicity and modulation congruency were controlled in order to produce varying degrees of perceptually fused timbre structures, indicating single or multiple sources.





Composer, electronic musician, and improvising pianist Anthony Tan (Canada) intersects notated instrumental practice with signal processing, synthesized models, sampling, and field recording, resulting in music that explores the identity of sound, and the fluidity of genre.


Recent and upcoming collaborators include Scapegoat (Canada/Austria), Ilana Waniuk (Canada), Maruta Staravoitava (Germany), Jane Chan (Canada), LUX:NM (Germany), No Hay Banda (Canada), Colin McAllister (USA), Quatuor Bozzini (Canada), Ensemble Experimental (Germany), Architek Percussion (Canada), and Turning Point Ensemble (Canada).


Awards include the audience and jury prize from the ECM+ Generation 2014 tour, the 2011 Giga-Hertz Förder Prize, and the International Competition for live-electronics of the Hamburg Klangwerktage. Residencies include Expermentalstudio des SWR (Freiburg, Germany), and the Leighton Artist Studios at the Banff Centre (Canada).


Tan holds a Ph.D. from McGill University, Montréal, Canada, the Meisterklasse from the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden, Germany, and was a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (RI’17). He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Victoria (Canada).



Composer, electronic musician, and improvising pianist Anthony Tan (Canada) intersects notated instrumental practice with signal processing, synthesized models, sampling, and field recording, resulting in music that explores the identity of sound, and the fluidity of genre. As a music researcher his interests include post-acousmatics, timbre theory, music perception, composer-performer paradigms, and inclusive pedagogy.


Tan has presented his music at the Warsaw Autumn Festival (Poland), Kontraklang (Germany), Tonlagen (Hellerau, Germany), Imatronic (ZKM, Germany), SMC Sound and Music Computing Conference (2014, Sweden), 2013 NYC electroacoustic festival (USA), ICMC - International Computer Music Conference (2009 Montreal, and 2010 New York), Matrix '10, '11, and ‘15 at the SWR Experimentalstudio (Germany), Domain Forget (Quebec), the IRCAM Computer Music workshops at Centre Acanthes (France), the National Arts Centre Composer's Program (Canada).


Recent and upcoming collaborators include Ilana Waniuk (Canada), Maruta Staravoitava (Germany), Jane Chan (Canada), Scapegoat (Canada/Austria), LUX:NM (Germany), No Hay Banda (Canada), Colin McAllister (USA), Quatuor Bozzini (Canada), Rei Nakamura (Germany), Ensemble Recherche (Germany), Ensemble Experimental (Germany), Architek Percussion (Canada), Ensemble Contemporaine de Montréal (Canada), Turning Point Ensemble (Canada), and New Music Concerts Ensemble (Canada). He has been commissioned by Dresden Philharmonie, Ensemble Contemporaine de Montréal, Les Cris de Paris, Ensemble Cairn, L’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne, Ensemble Moderne Academie, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the New Orford String Quartet, Toca Loca, New Music Concerts, and the Rubbing Stone Ensemble. Also involved with music for contemporary dance, he has written for the Merce Cunningham School (USA), Tangente (Canada), and Ephemeral Industry (Canada) and the Bravo!FACT (Canada) dance movie commissions.


Residencies include Expermentalstudio des SWR (Freiburg, Germany), and the Banff Leighton Studios at the Banff Centre (Canada). Awards include the audience and jury prize from the ECM+ Generation 2014 tour, the 2011 Giga-Hertz Förder Prize, the International Competition for live-electronics of the Hamburg Klangwerktage, and the Gold Medal in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music.


Tan completed his Ph.D. from McGill University, Montréal, Canada under the supervision of John Rea and Stephen McAdams, and the Meisterklasse from the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden, Germany with Mark Andre and Franz Martin Olbrisch. He was a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (RI’17). He previously served as Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (USA), and is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Victoria (Canada).


Assistant Professor of Composition, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


Assistant Professor, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA
Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University, USA

Lecturer -  Electronic Music Composition - Hochschule für Music Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden, Germany
Lecturer - Jazz Composition Tutorial - Contemporary Composition techniques - McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Lecturer - Digital Studio Composition levels I and II - McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Research Assistant - Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music and Music Technology (CIRMMT) 
Teaching Assistant - Musicianship - McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Teaching Assistant - Digital Studio Composition, levels I and II, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Historical Instrument Interpreter - National Music Centre, Calgary, Canada 


Ph.D. - McGill University - John Rea (Composition) and Stephen McAdams (Music Perception) ​
Meisterklasse - Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber - Mark Andre, Franz Martin Olbrisch, Clemens Gadenstätter, Michael Reudenbach 

Exchange - Univerisité de Montréal - Philippe Leroux (Mixed music), Robert Normandeau (Analysis of Electroacoustic Music) 

M.Mus. - McGill University - Sean Ferguson, Chris Paul Harman ​

B.Mus. - University of Calgary - David Eagle, Allan Bell, Hope Lee, Charles Foreman (Piano)





In Progress

New work

- for BalletBC and Dance Victoria

Solo violin and electronics

- for Ilana Waniuk (Canada)

Saxophone, percussion and electronics

- for Scapegoat (Canada/Austria)

Piano, violin and electronics

- for Thin Edge New Music Collective (Canada)


Colin McAllister, USA, 2021

Maruta Staravoitava, Germany, 2021

Theatreworks-UCCS Presents - USA, 2020

Turning Pont Ensemble, Vancouver, Canada, 2019

Bozzini Quartet + Erreur de Type 27, Quebec City, Canada 2019
LUX:NM, Berlin, Germany 2017
Hellqvist/Amaral/Hyde/Bierstone Project, 2017
Architek Percussion, Montréal, Canada 2016
Hayley-Laufer Duo, New York, USA 2016
New Music Concerts Toronto, Canada 2016
Noam Bierstone, Montréal, Canada 2016
Turning Point Ensemble. Vancouver, Canada 2015
Ensemble EXPERIMENTAL, Freiburg, Germany 2015
Ensemble Contemporaine de Montréal (ECM+), Montréal, Canada 2014
Dresden Philharmonie, Dresden, Germany 2014
Ensemble Recherche, Freiburg, Germany 2014
SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO, Freiburg, Germany 2013
Codes Acces, Montréal, Canada 2012
Fondation Royaumont, Paris, France 2011
Dorothea Hayley, Montréal, Canada 2011
Live@CIRMMT, Montréal, Canada 2011
New Works Calgary, Calgary, Canada 2011
Bravo!FACT, Toronto, Canada 2010
New Orford String Quartet, Montréal, Canada 2010
Toca Loca Ensemble, Montréal, Canada 2009
L’Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne, Ottawa, Canada 2009
Rubbing Stone Ensemble, Calgary, Canada 2009
Merce Cunningham Company, New York, USA 2007





Album Projects

Covid side project for mellow felt-piano and minimal electronics 

Ambient album in collaboration with Saxophonist, Improvisor, and Composer Joshua Hyde

This album presents two works within my 'Poses' series - a larger series of works, each for a solo performer and electronics.

An album of free-improvised piano music. 

Label: Polish Composer's Union
Catalog number : Polmic 133

Pose II: On the Shadows of Ideas(2013) - for Piano and Live Electronics

Performed by Rei Nakamura (Piano) and the SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO (Electronics)

Rubbing Stone Ensemble
Label: Centaur
Catalog number : CMCCD19213

UnRavel (2009) - for Violin, Ondes Martenot samples, and live electronics

Performed by Donovan Seidle











Tan, A. (2019), "Reality Sounding: Annesley Black's not thinking about the elephants." Circuit: Musique Contemporaines 29,       no.3 (2019): 73-90.


Tan, A. (2019). Memory and Synchronicity: Two approaches to Live Electronics. In Live Electronics im/in SWR Experimentalstudio.   Wolke Verlag.

Tan, A. (2014, June). Timbre as Vertical Process: Attempting a Perceptually Informed Functionality of Timbre.   In Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference (EMS14), Berlin, Germany.

Tan, A. (2015). Ksana: Compositional Control of Spectral Fusion as a Parameter of Timbre Functionality (Doctoral dissertation, McGill University Libraries).









email: tonetanmusic [at] gmail [dot] com





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