J.E. Wierzbicki: Burlesque Opera in London: 1729–1737 (diss., U. of Cincinnati, 1979)
Johnson, Scott (Richard)
(b Madison, WI, 12 May 1952). American composer and electric guitarist. He studied music and the visual arts at the University of Wisconsin (BS 1974). In 1975 he moved to New York, where he became active in the downtown music scene. He was first brought to wider attention in 1982 with his composition John Somebody, a long and exhilarating piece for sampled speaking voices and electric guitar. With this work, he became one of the first composers to incorporate elements of rock music into classical composition and the first to forge musical motifs from sampled speech. Continuing his efforts to unite the American vernacular with techniques of classical composition, he formed the amplified Scott Johnson Ensemble, a group consisting of three saxophonists, two electric guitarists, an electric bass guitarist and two percussionists. One of his works from this period, Simple Engines (1986), expands a six-note riff from a James Brown song into a 12-note row that is then used as a melodic device. Later works include Rock/Paper/Scissors and How It Happens, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet. The latter of these returns to sampling techniques: the first half is built around the recorded voice of the American political commentator I.F. Stone, while the second half uses synthesizers to create a dense, Latin-influenced reminiscence of life on New York’s Lower East Side. He has also completed a film score (Patty Hearst) and commissions from the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the Boston Ballet.
John Somebody, elec gui, tape, 1982; Before Winter I–II, s sax + bar sax, a sax + fl, t sax + b cl, 2 elec gui, 2 perc, 1984–5; Bird in the Domes, str qt, 1986; Simple Engines, s sax + bar sax, a sax + fl, t sax + b cl, 2 elec gui, elec bass gui, 2 perc, 1986; Patty Hearst (film score), vn, vc, synth, elec gui, 1988, arr. as suite; Confetti of Flesh (J. Cortez), S, va, elec gui, pf/synth, perc, 1990; Rock/Paper/Scissors, vn, vc, synth, elec gui, 1991–4; How It Happens, str qt, tape, 1993; Convertible Debts, vols.1–2, vn, vc, elec gui, pf, tape, 1995–8