Introducing Caleb Burhans

Composer, Singer, and Multi-instrumentalist

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 12:00 AM

I began composing in 1990. At that point I was a ten-year-old boy soprano who had just started taking violin and piano lessons. My favorite music at that time was Sam and Dave, The Beatles, and Mozart. About a year later I was introduced to the music of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Kevin Volans.

To my ears this music made more sense to me than a lot of the Romantic music I was starting to get acquainted with. It may have had something to do with being a kid in the eighties and primarily listening to rock n’ roll while growing up. Either way, this experience had a profound influence on the music that I would later write.

Like a lot of young composers, I experimented with a number of different styles and techniques. It only made sense, since I was doing everything from singing in church choirs to playing in punk bands. Unlike previous generations, my generation had the advantage of having tons of recordings available to us at our fingertips. I didn’t have to go to Pakistan to hear Qawwali music; I just went to my public library. This has had a huge impact on both the way we listen to music and the music industry itself. For me, it meant that everything out there was worth listening to -- and to not listen to everything would be a disservice to myself as a composer and musician.

Of course this doesn’t mean that my music sounds like everything I’ve ever listened to. As a composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, I have a few different avenues for my creativity. One is composing for various ensembles and my band, itsnotyouitsme. On the other side of things I get to improvise and perform, or cover other people’s music, which is very dear to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a ton of my favorite composers and I find that there’s nothing more rewarding than working with the person who can tell you first hand why they did what they did. Because I get to play and sing so many different styles of music, I find that when it comes time to write, I can generally clear my mind and write in my own voice.

Sometimes there’s room for the performer in me to come through in my compositions. Since I was a kid, I’ve found myself quoting various pieces and songs, often for sentimental or nostalgic reasons. Rather than sampling other’s music like a DJ, I find a way to fold it into the fabric of my own music.       

It goes without saying that for me, composing is very personal and in its own way, a form of therapy. I’m not really sure what I’d do without it. It might seem somewhat selfish, but if what I write doesn’t completely resonate with me, then why should I expect an audience to care? Hopefully (if I’ve done my job) I’ve made and will continue to make something that resonates with you.

Starting Monday, January 25, listen to Caleb Burhans's music on Q2 as part of our Composer Introduction series. Sample his piece In Time of Desperation from pianist Danny Holt's Innova recording, and if you enjoy, download it for free during this exclusive, week-long Q2 spotlight.

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Comments [7]

Nuno Guerreiro Josué from New York, NY

Congratulations to Caleb Burhans. Great work. Thanks Q2 for make such great music known to the world!

Jan. 28 2010 10:13 PM

gary gach

Please explain what you mean about Kyle's stream now being subscription based.

I have Postclassic as a stream from live365, which is really all subscription based.

Jan. 26 2010 07:56 AM
gary gach from left coast

found the link — by the way, since kyle gann's live.365 postminimalist station went subscription-only, i keep my web browser tuned to q2 — and wqxr. Thank you, folks !

Jan. 26 2010 01:46 AM

I really like the bit in the middle where I heard an echo of Elliott Smith that got crumpled and swept away by the flow.

Jan. 25 2010 05:52 PM

Hey there g g,

The link should be in the player at the top of this very page. Enjoy!

Jan. 25 2010 04:11 PM
gary gach from russian hill, san francisco

i loved hearing duke ellington on Q2 this week — along with silvestrov — bach & jacob tv — the danny holt album on onnova is a real find — 'tho i can't find the link to the free download to the desperation track — ¿ where is ? —

one love
g g

Jan. 25 2010 12:49 PM

It's great to see Innova at Q2.

Jan. 21 2010 05:56 PM

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