Constance Demby

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Constance Demby is a performing and recording artist, vocalist, original instrument inventor, painter, sculptor, and multi-media producer. Her Contemporary Classical Electronic Symphonic Spacemusic falls into several categories including ambient or space music.[1] She is best known for her award winning 1986 album Novus Magnificat.

Biography[edit]

Original cover of Novus Magnificat (1986 cassette)

Constance [2] Demby was born in Oakland, California. She learned to play classical piano in her childhood and went on to become a multi-instrumentalist (including hammered dulcimer, vocals, synthesizers, and originally-designed custom acoustic instruments). Demby is a performing and recording artist, vocalist, original instrument designer, painter, sculptor, and multi-media producer. Her Contemporary Classical Electronic Symphonic Spacemusic covers a wide range, and falls into several categories – including:

She studied sculpture and painting at the University of Michigan.[1] It was both as musician and sculptor that her Sonic Steel Instruments, the space bass and the whale sail were created. An original design, her Sonic Steel Instruments have been recorded by Lucas Skywalker Studios for use in their filmscores, and also filmed by Discovery Channel at Gaudi's Park Güell. The Space Bass is featured on Michael Stearns' soundtrack for Chronos.

Early life and training[edit]

A fifth generation Californian born in Oakland, CA, Demby began her training in classical music at age 8 in Burlingame, CA with her first public performance at age 12, which included classical piano works, double piano concertos and solfeggieto for the left hand alone. In high school, she formed a jazz group during which she began to develop skills in piano improvisation. Later, at the University of Michigan, she studied painting, sculpture, and multimedia.

Multi-instrumentalist[edit]

Demby performs on a variety of instruments: Early instruments included the Koto, Ch'eng, Harpeleck, Tamboura, and Hammer Dulcimer. In order to expand her explorations in sound, in the '70s she commissioned expert Sam Rizzetta to create a custom Hammer Dulcimer with extra low bass strings, which resulted in a new depth of resonance, and a unique new version of the ancient instrument.

Original instrument design[edit]

Demby's background as a painter and sculptor contributed to her development of original instruments when she invented the Whale Sail and the Space Bass, 10-foot-long, bowed instruments that transmit primordial subsonic resonances. As a sculptor, while torching a sheet of metal, she first noticed the unique subsonic tones and unusual sounds, which subsequently led to the development and refinement of the instruments. Lucas Sky Walker Studios, licensed the sounds of the Space Bass for use in their film scores. Discovery Channel filmed the Space Bass in Gaudi's "ParcGuell" in Barcelona for one of their specials. The Space Bass is featured on the soundtrack for the IMAX film, Chronos directed by Ron Fricke

The 1970s – early career[edit]

In the early '70s Demby co-founded a unique multimedia group, Central Maine Power Sound & Light, which toured the East Coast with their groundbreaking sound light shows. Venues included the Museum of Modern Art, the UN Sculpture Garden, Lincoln Center for the Arts, Fitchburg Planetarium, Strausbourg Planetarium, and the Greenwich Village Gallery, "A Fly can Bird but a Bird can't Fly" where Demby's massive multi-media "Space Mass" show was produced in March 1970. In 1977 Demby began to investigate the spiritual life, and was drawn into Sant Mat a discipline based on the yoga of mantra and the eternal Sound Current. Once initiated by Sant Ajaib Singh Ji, Demby was opened up and the sound current began to pour through, inspiring devotional songs which formed the basis of her first album, Skies Above Skies.

The 1980s[edit]

In 1980, Demby returned to the west coast, settling in Marin County north of San Francisco. Her record label, Sound Currents was founded, and in 1980 Sunbourne was released, inspired by "The Emerald Tablets", an ancient script by Hermes Trismegestus. In 1982, the devotional Sacred Space Music, featuring the Hammer Dulcimer, was released on the Hearts of Space label. Demby had developed her own technique for playing this ancient instrument, described as a "shimmering effect" as the hammers hit the strings in rapid succession. Brugh Joy, MD used "The Longing" from Sacred Space Music as a meditation for his pupils, employing a special technique he created in which three chakras are activated, resulting in a heart-opening experience for the listener. In 1983, Demby performed at The Alaron Center in Sausalito, CA. Melodies that would later become the themes in Novus Magnificat appeared that night, captured on tape in the cassette album Live at Alaron. During this time period, Demby formed the group Gandarva which included among others, multi-instrumentalist Benjy Wertheimer of Ancient Future. The group toured to Boulder, Colorado double-billing with Paul Winter. In 1987, the compilation album Light of This World came out on Demby's Sound Currents label, and in 1989 the celebratory Set Free was released by Hearts of Space.

Electronic revolution – Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate[edit]

The mid-eighties brought changes in recording technology with the advent of digital sampled sounds. By the mid 1980s, digital sampling synthesizer keyboards had been invented, which formed the basis of all her orchestral works (including former info on digital sampling). The Emulator II had been designed with a full digital orchestra on floppy disc. Like the Emulator I, it was an 8-bit sampler, however it had superior fidelity, and allowed more flexibility in editing sounds.

With a full digital orchestra to compose with, Demby embraced the electronic revolution and created a contemporary classical electronic symphony using a full range of orchestral symphonic instruments, pipe organ, and choral voices. Tapping into her spiritual guidance, she brought through her groundbreaking album, Novus Magnificat – Through the Stargate, with sound textures added by Michael Stearns, it was released in 1986 on the Hearts of Space record label. – Novus has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide, making Demby one of the most successful New Age artists of the decade. Working with Warren Dennis at his studio The Banquet, and with Anna Turner and Stephen Hill of Hearts of Space, the release of Novus helped to build the Hearts of Space label.

The 1990s[edit]

Demby began touring internationally in the '90s, first to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then to Lanzarote, Canary Islands to perform in an underground volcanic cave, where she shared the billing with Paul Horn and Pauline Oliveros. Power Places Tours invited her on their tour to Egypt, where she performed at the foot of the Great Pyramid and conducted ceremonies inside the Kings Chamber. A tour to Tokyo was next where a special effects film was made of the artist in action; resulting in a CD and DVD of LIVE IN TOKYO. In 1995 the emotionally cathartic album Aeterna, considered the sequel to Novus, was released on the Hearts of Space label, reviewers comparing the music to classical masters such as Bruckner, and Rachminoff. Arjuna Ardaugh, Founder of the Living Essence Foundation and Author of "The Translucent Revolution" commissioned Demby to create music for his guided meditations. "Heart Meditation" and "The Beloved". During this same time period Demby was commissioned to compose a score for "Faces of the Christ" for a film inspired by images of the Christ throughout history.

The 21st century[edit]

ISSO, International Space Science Organization, commissioned Demby to create a score for the film I AM, an ambitious, multi-leveled journey through time and space, earth and cosmos, the creation of life, the history of civilization and world religions. The album Spirit Trance, composed in Spain, features four selections from "I Am". The title song on Spirit Trance, "Legend" was originally composed for the film "James Dean – an American Legend", however due to complications with the James Dean Foundation, the film by director Alan Hauge never made it to the big screen. Demby toured Spain for 2½ years with performances such as "II Cicle Internacional de Musiques Mistiques" at Mercat De Les Flors in Barcelona.

"Sanctum Sanctuorum" was composed in Spain with critics comparing the album to Gregorian chant and Requiems by Faure and Durufle. Returning to the US, Demby toured the west coast presenting concerts and healing workshops[M24]. Her Sound Currents label subsequently released Sonic Immersion, a vibrational sound healing attunement featuring the sub-sonic frequencies of the "Space Bass".

UK Sacred Sites Tour[edit]

In 2005, Constance was invited to tour England to present a UK Sacred Sites Tour. The tour included sites such as Glastonbury, Avebury, and a sunrise ceremony at Stonehenge

Tours[edit]

  • Tokyo / Live in Tokyo
  • Egypt / The Pyramids, Kings Chamber
  • Spain / Barcelona, Sitges, Valencia, Esplugues
  • Brazil / Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo
  • Canary Islands /Underground Volcanic Cave performance
  • Los Angeles / Laserium Cyberstudios, Sacred Music Festival
  • Massachusetts / Strasbourg, Fitch & Haydn Planetariums
  • NYC / Museum of Modern Art, UN Sculpture Garden, Lincoln Center for the Arts

Events[edit]

Constance Demby has been a featured musician and speaker at many conferences with other notable authors, artists and teachers including The Dali Lama, Joseph Campbell, Depak Chopra, George Lucas, Joseph Campbell and Gene Roddenberry, Marianne Williamson, Paul Winter Consort, Brugh Joy, David Spangler

Discography[edit]

STUDIO ALBUMS
  • 1978: Skies Above Skies (CS, Sound Currents / Gandarva)
  • 1980: Sunborne (CS, Sound Currents/Gandarva)
  • 1982: Sacred Space Music (CS, Sound Currents/Gandarva; 1988 CD, Hearts of Space Records)
  • 1986: Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate (Hearts of Space Records)
  • 1989: Set Free (Hearts of Space Records)
  • 1995: Aeterna (Hearts of Space Records)
  • 1998: The Beloved (Living Essence Foundation)
  • 1998: The Heart Meditation (Living Essence Foundation)
  • 2000: Attunement: Live in Concert (Sound Currents)
  • 2000: Faces of the Christ (Sound Currents)
  • 2001: Sanctum Sanctuorum (Hearts of Space Records)
  • 2003: Live in Tokyo -CD & DVD- (Sound Currents)
  • 2004: Spirit Trance (Hearts of Space Records)
  • 2004: Sonic Immersion (Sound Currents)
  • 2011: Ambrosial Waves – Healing Waters (Sound Currents)
  • 2013: Ambrosial Waves – Tidal Pools (Sound Currents)
LIVE ALBUMS
  • 1984: Constance Demby at Alaron (live, 1983) (CS, Sound Currents/Gandarva)
  • 2000: Attunement: Live in Concert (live, 1999) (Sound Currents)
  • 2008: Live in Tokyo (live, 2002, CD-DVD) (Sound Currents)
COMPILATIONS
  • 1987: Light of This World (compilation, 1978–1986 best-of, plus 2 original tracks)(CS/CD, Sound Currents)
  • 1991: Polar Shift (various-artists compilation, 1 original Demby track)(Private Music)

Awards / Reviews[edit]

  • Voted --"One of the 10 best albums of the decade" – Pulse! Magazine
  • Voted --"One of the 25 most influential ambient albums of all time" – New Age Voice
  • Voted --"One of the 25 best gateway New Age albums" – New Age Retailer
  • Voted --"Editor's Choice" – Third Annual Digital Audio magazine awards
  • Voted --"Top 50 definitive CD New Age Library" – CD Review
  • Voted --"TOP 15 – Electronic New Age Albums List"
  • SF Examiner --'"If ever there was a choreographer of the ineffable, Demby is it."
  • Int'l Acclaim Reviews --'"The undisputed founder of Sacred Symphonic Spacemusic."
  • Barnes & Noble.com -- "Perhaps she's found the way to make time reverse…"
  • NA Retailer“ -- "Heart opening, grandly expansive music."
  • Digital Audio -- "Sets exceptionally high standards in contemporary music.""
  • NAR -- *Given Demby's multidimensional talents, it's no wonder her music is listened to all around the world."

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]