Hans Tammen likes to set sounds in motion, and then sitting back to watch the movements unfold. Using textures, timbre and dynamics as primary elements, his music is continuously shifting, with different layers floating into the foreground while others disappear. Whether richly processed guitar sounds from his hybrid interactive guitar/software instrument Endangered Guitar, traditionally notated material for his Third Eye Chamber Orchestra, or graphically notated elements for the all-electronic Dark Circuits Orchestra, his music flows like clockwork, “transforming a sequence of instrumental gestures into a wide territory of semi-hostile discontinuity; percussive, droning, intricately colorful, or simply blowing your socks off” (Touching Extremes).
He calls his guitar work Endangered Guitar because of the extreme alterations he enacts upon his instrument’s sound and construction, resulting in a hybrid guitar/software instrument made to interactively control live sound processing. Signal To Noise called his works “…a killer tour de force of post-everything guitar damage”, All Music Guide recommended him: “…clearly one of the best experimental guitarists to come forward during the 1990s.”
His Third Eye Orchestra compositions for large ensembles and live sound processing are inspired by Charles Ives’ polytonality, Steve Coleman’s rhythmic complexity and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s organization of sounds. All About Jazz called the music “nothing short of breathtaking”, and “a masterpiece of musical evocation”, AvantMusicNews the orchestra’s performance at the 2015 Victoriaville Festival “a thrilling 75-minute display that combined individual virtuosity in a cohesive and fun-filled framework.”
The Dark Circuits Orchestra is a large ensemble devoted to contemporary electronic instrument practices such as circuit bending, no-input mixers, laptops, turntablism, analogue circuitry, controllerism and network sniffers, and has received generous grants from MapFund and NYSCA. He has been the director of the Dark Circuits Festivals 2014 and 2017, the latter focusing on light artists using A/V synths, lightbulbs, LED structures, fluorescent lights and other bizarre visuals.
Numerous projects include site-specific performances and collaborative efforts with dance, light, video, and theater, having used technology from planetarium projectors and guitar robots to disklavier pianos and chaos-synths.
His works have been presented on festivals in the US, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, India, Israel, South Africa and all over Europe. He recorded on labels such as Clang, Innova, ESP-DISK, Nur/Nicht/Nur, Gold Bolus, Creative Sources, Leo Records, Potlatch and Outnow.
Hans Tammen received grants and composer commissions from NewMusicUSA, MAPFund, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, American Music Center, Lucas Artists Residencies Montalvo, New York State Council On The Arts (NYSCA), New York Foundation For The Arts (NYFA), American Composers Forum w/ Jerome Foundation, New York State Music Fund, Goethe Institute w/ Foreign Affairs Office, among others.
Hans Tammen is currently teaching at School of Visual Arts, and has been a Visiting Artist at Sarah Lawrence College in 2015. From 2001 to 2014 he has worked at Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center in NYC, where he was responsible for the Client Services, Education and Artist In Residence program, helping countless digital media artists through completion of their works. As an arbitrator at BTQ in the 1990s, he has has spent a decade advising unions about electronic monitoring and surveillance at the workplace, and negotiating contracts and agreements to minimize surveillance aspects. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Kassel, studying on a stipend from Friedrich Ebert Foundation.