(b Ilwaco, WA, 27 Jan 1956). American composer and performer. Originally trained as a percussionist, he studied at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (BM 1978) and at the California Institute for the Arts (MFA 1981), where his teachers included John Bergamo, Ruth Underwood and Karen Ervin (percussion), and Mosko, Subotnick and Earle Brown (composition). In 1981, he co-founded the California EAR Unit; he has also performed with the Antenna Repairmen percussion trio and with his ensemble Some Over History. His honours include commissions from the Los Angeles PO, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation and the American Composers Forum, and an NEA fellowship.
Jarvinen's work combines contemporary experimental music techniques with rhythmic and timbral textures that grow out of his involvement with rock and blues. Most of his compositions are for small instrumental ensembles in which percussion plays a leading role. In addition to idiosyncratic combinations of instruments, he has a fondness for unusual sonorities: Egyptian Two-Step (1986) uses two spray cans of compressed air to provide rhythmic counterpoint; and The Paces of Yu (1990) employs window shutters, pencil sharpeners and a group of eight mouse-traps. Such unusual compositional choices lend an air of puckish theatricality to his music, a quality also characteristic of his solo stage works, which he has labelled ‘physical poetry’.
Ens: Through Birds, Through Fire, But Not Through Glass, perc qt, 1979; Vote of Confidence, amp triangles, 1979; Raison d'être, mar, vib, 1981; Viscous Linings, va, b cl, cel, perc, 1981; Elec Jesus, pf, 19 insts, 1985; A Book of Five Rings, pf, prep pf, perc, 1986; Egyptian Two-Step, pic + b fl, chromatic harmonica, bar sax, pf, mar, elec b gui, 2 spray cans, 1986; Mass Death of a School of Small Herring, chbr orch, 1986; Goldbeater’s Skin, bn + b cl, vn, vc, ratchet, glock, synth, 1987 [arr. cl + b cl, 1987; vn, 1988]; The Seven Golden Vampires, 2 pf, 1987
The Queen of Spain, 2 elec hpd, 2 perc (1988–90); Edible Black Ink, elec gui/mar, elec b gui, 1989; Murphy-Nights, bar sax, elec vn, elec b gui, perc, synth, opt. solo inst, 1989; The Paces of Yu, berimbau, perc, 1990; The Trio with Time Machines, 3 glock, 3 ratchets, 3 kitchen timers, 1990; Vulture's Garden, fl + pic, cl + b cl, vn, vc, pf, 2 perc, 1990; Clean your Gun, elec vn, chromatic harmonica, bar sax, vc + elec gui, 1991; Little Deaths, 3 spkrs, TV, 1991; Philifor Honeycombed with Childishness, ob, chbr ens, 1991; Jaltarong, 26 porcelain bowls, 1992; The Modulus of Elasticity, crumhorn + ob, b cl, bn, vn, va, vc, perc, 1992
Toys do not Walk and Talk, vn, b cl, trbn, elec b gui, 1992; Bong's Garbo, gongs, 1993; Bong's Other Garbo, perc trio, 1993; Breaking the Chink, s sax, bar sax, b cl, trbn, kbd, 2 perc, 2 elec gui, elec b gui, vn, va, 1993; Be Good to Your Fingers and they Won't Kill You, cl, va, bn, db, perc, 1994; God B’s Lullaby, 1v, pf, 1994; The Aten, vn + cl, db, pf, perc, 1995; Chasing the Devil, 4 melody insts, low inst, b inst, perc, 1995; Isoluminaries, fl, vn, b cl, vc, pf, perc, 1995; Microscoperas, spkr, elec org, 1995; Solving for X(tet), 10 insts, 1995; Broken Ostinato, 2 pf/gui, 1996; Out of the Blue, 8 tuned stell bell plates/chimes, 1996; White Lights Lead to Red, fl, vn, b cl, vc, pf, 2 perc, 1996
Solo inst: Mercury at Right Angles, cel, 1980; Soluble Furniture, pf, 1980; Carbon, b cl, 1982; Deductible Rooms, mar, 1982; The Fifteen Fingers of Doctor Wu, ob, 1987; Bench Ads Works, gui, 1990; The Meaning of the Treat, pf, 1995; Pizzicato, vc, 1996; Serious Immobilities (840 Variations on Satie's Vexations), pf, 1997