David Morneau is a composer of an entirely undecided genre. Described by Molly Sheridan as a "shining beacon" of inspiration, his diverse work illuminates ideas about our culture, issues concerning creativity, and even the very nature of music itself. His eclectic output has been described variously as "elegantly rendered", "happily prissy", "impressive", "unusual, esoteric, and offbeat". His 2014 chiptune album, Broken Memory, "absolutely wrecks shop.… For that, David Morneau wins."
Born in 1975, Morneau grew up in the mountains of upstate New York. His first experience making music came in fourth grade when he joined the school band as an aspiring trombonist. Under the guidance of a patient teacher, he discovered composition through the drama club at his high school. He was instantly hooked, going on to study music in college and earning a Master of Music from Western Michigan University and a Doctor of Musical Arts from The Ohio State University. Morneau has spent his life exploring music as a way to connect to people and ideas.
In 2008, Morneau received acclaim for 60x365, his ambitious yearlong musical project for which he composed a new one-minute composition every day. This project caught the attention of NPR and was featured on All Things Considered with Robert Siegel. Selections from 60x365 have been included on the 2014 International Sound Art Festival Berlin, Sonoscop festival in Barcelona, the Spark Festival at the University of Minnesota, Electronic Music Midwest at Lewis University, in a collaborative dance performance with choreographer Kristin Hapke at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, and on Jon Nelson's Some Assembly Required radio show.
Morneau's Love Songs, a collaboration with ten poets combining Shakespeare's sonnets with contemporary poetry in genre-crossing songs, was released on Composer’s Concordance Records in 2013. He followed up in 2015 with the release of Love Songs Remixed, which enlisted 9 other composers and producers to create new music using the existing songs, expanding the idea of what a remix can be. Music from Love Songs has been featured on numerous concerts throughout the United States and in Brazil.
With Vintage Machines, Morneau is creating a series of pieces utilizing vintage video game systems to make music. The first such piece was composed in 2006 in collaboration with choreographer Boris Willis titled Abandoned Revolution—a dance work that incorporated video game story elements. Morneau explores beyond the impulse toward nostalgia, embracing the limitations of the Nintendo Game Boy in the pursuit of self-expression. Subsequent music includes Broken Memory, an album for Immigrant Breast Nest; in8 an 8-channel deconstruction of Game Boy loops; and Another Dimension, a bustling meditation that stretches beyond 50 minutes (featured on Hans Tammen’s Dark Circuits series).
In 2015 New Thread Quartet commissioned Morneau to compose an evening-length piece inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Not Less Than the Good simulates a sunrise by combining the meditative playing of the saxophone quartet with ambient synthesizers. Underneath this are sounds recorded during the pre-dawn and early morning hours at Walden Pond: a chorus of insects, the lone song of dawn’s first bird which is joined by others in a raucous counterpoint, and the splashing of morning swimmers. The hour-long performance is punctuated by readings of excerpts from Walden, selected as a secular prayer of hope for enlightenment and performed by poet J. D. McClatchy. Not Less Than the Good was premiered at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York and presented at 51 Walden in Concord, MA, as part of the town’s bicentennial celebration of Thoreau’s birthday.
In January 2016, Morneau co-founded l'Artiste ordinaire with Melissa Grey. Their collaboration pushes beyond the usual contemporary classical music conventions in every way. Their Photon Ecstasy project is a series of endless compositions inspired by Dan Rose's The DNA-Photon Project. Photon Ecstasy began with the commission for Photon Ecstasy (HD 7924) from the University of Pennsylvania's Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and continues with the recent release of PETITE ecstasy, an album of music from this project in collaboration with mezzo-soprano Jessica Bowers.
Their Biophonic Beats is a conceptual response to the sonic ecosystem, a structured improvisation for benjolin synthesizer, trombone, and beats. Like many of the projects that Grey & Morneau create, Biophonic Beats is a matrix for collaboration. They have performed with bassist Gahlord Dewald, clarinetist Thomas Piercy (performing on hichiriki), live visualist Marc Fiaux, and a consort of toy pianists during their residency at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (St. Petersburg, FL) in January, 2018. They have also developed an improvisation workshop for students using this music. During their tenure as Joan C. Edwards Distinguished Professor of the Arts at Marshall University, they led the students through a four-hour improvisation workshop using the structure and language of Biophonic Beats.
As l'Artiste ordinaire, Grey & Morneau produce Soft Series, a concert series dedicated to presenting soft premieres. They have hosted the soft premiere of Thomas Piercy's 40-minute hichiriki performance of composer Bin Li's Voices 2; a performance of Eve Beglarian's I am lost by streams that featured trombonist Will Lang playing alongside an in-progress film by Caleb Kenna and Rohan Sen; the first ever live animation performance by artist Nicole Antebi; an evening of art songs composed for The Bowers-Fader Duo, which became a program that the duo performed again on multiple occasions; and a workshop performance of Kenneth Gaburo's Maledetto by thingNY & Varispeed, which was further developed for a performance at Roulette in NYC. Additionally, Soft Series has featured the Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes, Elizabeth A Baker, violin duo Miolina (Lynn Bechtold and Mioi Takeda), cellist Craig Hultgren, and the soft premiere of l'Artiste ordinaire's Photon Ecstasy.
Morneau lives and works in New York.
"An Organic Blend" by Jack Crager (December 29, 2014)
NM421 (New York, NY)
"COMPOSER'S VOICE: Exploring New Timbres with Duo Anova & Bateira Trio" by Erin Bomboy (February 7, 2014)
Review: Love Songs by Jay Batzner (December 11, 2013)
Review: Broken Memory by Joshua Decker (December 4, 2013)
United Mutations (Belgium)
Morneau: Love Songs (October 22, 2013)
NM421 (New York, NY)
"Man Marries Machine, Everyone Lives Happily Ever After" by Erin Bomboy (November 11, 2012)
"The Wit of Brevity" by Harry Rolnick (October 19, 2012)
Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
"Minute hand to sweep performers on, offstage" by Amy Saunders (October 3, 2009)
Some Assembly Required
interview by Jon Nelson
listen to program (September 12, 2009)
No Extra Notes
interview by Richard Zarou (April 5, 2009)
Noizepunk & Das Krooner
interview by Gene Pritsker and George Coleman (March 4, 2009)
Queens Ledger "On the Record"
article by Jeffrey Harmatz (February 24, 2009)
Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar
interview by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and David Ross Gunn (December 13, 2008)
interview by Evan X Merz (October 24, 2008)
All Things Considered
interview by Robert Seigel (June 30, 2008)
New Music Box
interview by Molly Sheridan (June 30, 2008)
Mind the Gap
article by Molly Sheridan (June 30, 2008)
Networked Music Review
posting by Helen Thorington (June 17, 2008)
review by Justin Schell (March 11, 2008)
The Record (Stockton, California)
article by Aaron Davis (January 31, 2008)
OSU Arts & Humanities Blog
posting by Victoria Ellwood (January 25, 2008)
Networked Music Review
posting by Helen Thorington (November 9, 2007)