Robert Wannamaker is a composer, improviser, instrument builder, music theorist, mathematician, and educator.
Rob has written music for large and small ensembles, solo instruments, live electronics, and installations, as well as electroacoustic and algorithmic music. His music reflects his interests in the physicality and perception of sound, sonic environments, extended performance techniques, tuning systems, noise, gradual processes, and algorithmic composition. His works have been performed in Europe and North America by Ensemble Ascolta, Shadow Language Electric Guitar Quartet, SONOR Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Chronophonie, The Nonsense Company, János Négesy & Päivikki Nykter, Angharad Davies, Barbara Lüneberg, and others.
As an improviser Rob performs on piano, for which he has developed a body of extended techniques, and on The Instrument, a collection of objects in combination with commercial and homemade signal processing equipment that he has been refining since 1999. His solo and ensemble improvisations have been featured at 4862 Voltaire Street (San Diego), Zeitgeist Gallery (Boston), Flywheel (Easthampton), Casa del Popolo (Montreal), and in Toronto at the Music Gallery, the Victory Cafe, Aleph Null, ARRAYMUSIC Studio, Artword Theatre, and elsewhere. His improvising partners have included Allison Cameron, Eric Chenaux,Dan Friedman, Mike Gennaro, Greg Kelley, Tomasz Krakowiak, Kurt Newman, John Oswald, Mauro Savo, Alexandre St-Onge, Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, Doug Tielli, and others.
Rob teaches at the California Institute of the Arts where he is Associate Dean and Professor of Composition, Theory, History & Literature. His research interests in music include the application of psychoacoustics to musical analysis, mathematical models of pitch organization, tuning theory, and the history and analysis of contemporary music. He holds a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of California, San Diego where he studied principally with Chaya Czernowin, but also with Roger Reynolds, Gerald Balzano, Charles Curtis and Miller Puckette, among others. He previously studied with James Tenney and David Lidov at York University in Toronto, where he obtained BFA and MA degrees in composition. He has had private lessons with Richard Barrett, Lisa Bielawa, Paul Dresher, Luca Francesconi, Vinko Globokar, Toshio Hosakawa, David Lang, Liza Lim, Alvin Lucier, Philippe Manoury, Tristan Murail, Eliane Radigue, and Denis Smalley, and has studied improvisation with George Lewis at UCSD and Casey Sokol at York University.
Rob also holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo where he studied with Stanley Lipshitz, and he continues to consult and conduct research on signal processing theory, noisy systems, and psychoacoustics. With Lipshitz and John Vanderkooy of the University of Waterloo's Audio Research Group, his research on the mathematical theory and engineering implementation of dithered quantization techniques has made them universal in professional digital audio applications. His methodology for designing psychoacoustically optimal filters for noise-shaping quantization-error feedback is also widely used. His scholarly publications have appeared in Contemporary Music Review, Music Theory Online, IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, Physical Review E, the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society and elsewhere.