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The Window Gallery presents the work of contemporary makers of unusual and newly invented musical instruments, including emerging artists as well as recognized pioneers. The emphasis is on originality in concept and design, recognizing the seminal role of the search for new sounds in the expansion of musical horizons. Equally essential to the exhibits are notions of beauty, craft, and humor.

The Window Gallery is curated by Bart Hopkin and David Samas. Located at 55 Taylor Street in San Francisco, the gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, and during performances.

Email the Gallery Manager for information, questions, comments or to propose an installation. View past installations.

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Sat, Sep 15 — Mon, Oct 29, 2018
Inventions from The Maze and The Machine

Inventions from The Maze and The Machine:
Instruments by Daniel Schmidt for the Paul Dresher Ensemble
Featuring inventions by Daniel Schmidt in collaboration with Paul Dresher

Paul Dresher and Daniel Schmidt have collaborated on invented instruments since the mid-1970s. Their initial inventions were for American Gamelan and were often in dialogue with composer Lou Harrison and his partner Bill Colvig. Their current inventions fall into two general categories. The first includes visually beautiful and easily played instruments/sound sculptures suitable for general audiences, including children. These instruments generally have one – or at most a few – means of producing sound.  The inventions on display here are of this type.

The inventions in the second group are complex, electro-acoustic instruments that require substantial practice and in experienced hands can express a vast range of musical textures and emotional content. Although general audiences have experimented with them, these instruments are designed for professional performances of concert and theatrical music by Paul Dresher and his collaborators, particularly with percussionist Steven Schick and Dresher’s long-time collaborator, Joel Davel, in the Dresher-Davel Invented Instrument Duo. This group can be heard in concert on June 7 & 8, 2019 at ODC Theater in San Francisco.

Arist Bios

Paul Dresher is a multi-talented composer who is uniquely able to weave contemporary classical, pop, minimalist, and South and Southeast Asian musical styles together into his own distinctive personal style. He creates in a myriad of different genres, including experimental theater, contemporary opera, acoustic and electronic chamber music, orchestral compositions, dance scores, and musical instrument invention.

His solo percussion work Schick Machine (2009), was created for percussionist Steven Schick and performed on a set huge invented musical instruments and sound sculptures and his latest creation is Sound Maze (2015), a hands-on sound installation of twelve large-scale invented musical instruments and sound sculptures that is touring widely in the United States and internationally to both performing arts and interactive museum institutions. Extensive information about Dresher’s work can be found at www.dresherensemble.org and examples of works with invented instruments can be found by searching for Paul Dresher or Dresher Ensemble at YouTube.

Daniel Schmidt is a musical instrument inventor, composer and music educator. His inventions have been exhibited at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, the San Francisco Art Institute, New Langton Arts, EXPO ‘86 in Vancouver, Dartington College in England, and the Cornish Institute in Seattle.  In addition he has built musical instruments for
John Cage with the Boston Symphony, John Adams and the San Francisco Symphony, and worked closely with composer and inventor Lou Harrison on a number of projects. Daniel is well known for his contribution to creating the genre known as American Gamelan, broadening the range and timbral palette of traditional Indonesian designs and making the instruments more well-suited to the western compositional approach. He has long been a leader in field of American Gamelan & Javanese music, and in that capacity has directed performances or had residencies at the Cabrillo Music Festival, the Oakland Museum, the Exploratorium, New Music America in San Francisco and Los Angeles, UC Berkeley, California Institute of the Arts, and the Berliner Kunstler Program (DAAD).

His work with Paul Dresher has brought about two significant new instruments, the Quadrachord and the Hurdy Grande.  They have also developed instruments for specific use in two large theatrical productions – Sound Stage (2001) and Schick Machine (2009) as well as for The Sound Maze (2015-18), a hands-on interactive installation work that has regularly toured the United States since its premiere in 2015.


Mon, Oct 1 — Thu, Nov 1, 2018
Brian Lucas: Gaze Emanations

Atrium Display: Brian Lucas, Gaze Emanations

Artist Statement

My paintings and drawings speculate on the visual similarities between micro- and macrocosmic worlds and the liminal spaces between their supposedly opposite extremes. The biomorphic growths, nodes, and nebulae on display reflect my interest in organic processes: they are at once cosmic and microbial, quantum and expansive. I have evolved ed this personal visual grammar consistently over the last twenty years.

Artist Bio

Brian Lucas’s exhibitions include: Defasaje Polícrono (Airesis, Guadalajara); Dark Star: Abstraction and Cosmos (Planthouse, New York); Divine Invasions (Krowswork Gallery, Oakland); Terra Incognita (Art@Archer, Oakland), and Naked Metaphysics (The Emerald Tablet, San Francisco). His book, Eclipse Babel, was co-published by Ensemble Editions and Bootstrap Press in 2015. He plays in the bands Dire Wolves and Angel Archer. 


Thu, Nov 1 — Sun, Dec 30, 2018
Don Buchla: Instruments for Electronic Expression

Don Buchla: Instruments for Electronic Expression

Curated by Joel Davel

“In my many years working for Don Buchla, I had the pleasure of witnessing his drive to create innovative musical controllers. While many Buchla fanatics hail his modular synthesis designs, Don interest in them was often more about how a creative interface might inspire new composition. I first met Don when he introduced Thunder at Mills College in 1990. I had already experienced composing on his modular system and in particular his set up for computer control of it — a system that he installed at Northing Illinois University. But now Don was moving towards making live (portable) controllers that were in sync with my own needs as a performer/composer. By 1995 I was able to get deep enough into helping those innovations along to become the circuit board designer and the alpha tester for all the new ideas. I hope that by presenting works of Don’s that focus on those years from 1989 to the end of this life, and being allowed to interact with them, gallery visitors might get a glimpse of the Don I knew much more than any recording or talk could. “  -Joel Davel

Don Buchla (1937-2016)

Educated in physics, physiology, and music, Don Buchla’s multi-faceted creativity was applied to fields as diverse as space biophysics research, musical instrument design, and multi-media composition. A UC-Berkeley alumnus, he spent the majority of his life as a resident of Berkeley, enjoying both the experimental and academic stimulation it offered. Much of his work was centered on the refinement of communication channels between man and machine, notably the invention of mobility aids for the visually handicapped, the development of instrumentation for bio-feedback and physiological telemetry, and the design of interactive electronic musical instruments and performance-oriented music languages.

With encouragement from Morton Subotnik in 1963, Don began to focus his efforts more on electronic musical instrument design. That led to many collaborations with musicians, composers, and researchers over the years in addition to performing with and co-founding such groups as the Electric Weasel Ensemble, and the Muse and the Fuse. From 1989 to 2004 — while other commercial sound resources flooded the market — Don focused on developing several exotic controllers that provide expressive alternatives to traditional musical input devices including Thunder, Lightning II, Wind, Rain, Marimba Lumina, and the Piano Bar. In his final years he revisited the 200 series—the”electric music box” series that made him a legend in the 1970’s—by creating the 200e series modular.

Joel Davel worked with Don Buchla for over 20 years in many roles–his primary task being the PCB designer for all of Buchla’s post-1995 designs including the Marimba Lumina, Lightning III, Moog Piano Bar, and all of the 200e series. Davel also performed alongside Don Buchla. Reviewing an event featuring Bob Moog and Don Buchla the Wall Street Journal wrote: “percussionist Joel Davel blew everyone away with his virtuosic improvisation on the Marimba Lumina, an electronic invention that emulates and extends the vocabulary of conventional mallet instruments, and the [Buchla] Lightning, played by waving wireless wands in space.”

Davel’s closest musical partnership is with Paul Dresher as part of the Dresher/Davel Invented Instrument Duo, Electro-Acoustic Band, and Double Duo quartet—an international touring group.  Davel has recording credits on marimba and electronics with groups led by electronic-diva Amy X Neuburg, violinist Kaila Flexer, and guitarist Jack West among others. He is Inspired by movement and storytelling and has enjoyed work with The California Shakespeare Theater, West Edge Opera, South Coast Repertory and composing and performing live for over six dNaga dance productions.

Now with Buchla USA, Joel works in his role as lead engineer to keep Don’s creative vision and designs alive.

Davel holds Bachelor of Music from Northern Illinois University and MFA from Mills College.


The Window Gallery at the Center for New Music is supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2016-17.
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The Window Gallery at the Center for New Music was supported by New Music USA in 2014.