David Torn (born 26 May 1953) is an American composer, guitarist, and music producer. He is known for the organic blending/manipulation of electronic and acoustic instruments and performance techniques that have an atmospheric or textural quality and effect. He is particularly well known for his influence on the development of looping effects.
Torn has contributed to recordings by artists including David Bowie, k.d. lang, John Legend, Madonna, Tori Amos, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, Mick Karn, David Sylvian, Chocolate Genius, Michael Shrieve, Steve Roach, Patrick O'Hearn, Andy Rinehart, Matt Chamberlain, Meshell Ndegeocello and Don Cherry. He has produced a Grammy-winning recording for Jeff Beck, as well as recordings for Tim Berne, Drew Gress, Dave Douglas, Douglas September, and many others. In addition to his composition work, Torn's recording have been featured in a number of films, including Friday Night Lights, Velvet Goldmine, Adaptation, The Big Lebowski, The Departed, Fur, The Hoax, Kalifornia, Traffic, Reversal of Fortune, Tibet, and Three Kings. He studied with Leonard Bernstein (within the "Music for Young Composers" series), as well as with guitarists John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, Paul Weiss and Arthur Basile. Torn works out of his personal studios, known as Cell Labs; occasionally, he uses the pseudonym "splattercell."
David Torn was born in Amityville, New York. He is married to L. Brecht[who?], is the son of L.J. and R. Torn, the father of both Elijah B Torn and Cody Torn, the brother of M. Torn, and he is a cousin of Rip Torn, Angelica Torn, Geraldine Page, Sissy Spacek and Ina Garten, AKA The Barefoot Contessa. Torn began his career with the Ithaca-based jam band Zobo Funn Band in the 1970s, and rose to prominence as a member of The Everyman Band and Jan Garbarek's quartet in the mid-1980s. He has recorded six albums as a leader for the ECM, Windham Hill, CMP, and 75 Ark record labels. He has also recorded a series of CD-ROMs with looping and other ambient music and "integrated noise" materials that can be used as samples by other artists.
In 1992, Torn was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma; in his case, a life-threatening form of brain tumor. The surgery that followed left him deaf in the right ear, but didn't rob him of the ability to compose, record and play. Torn even mixes many widely available recordings himself, although according to him this requires sitting sideways to the studio speakers and "visualising the stereo aspects of sound" in his head rather than experimenting with them by ear.
In 2013, Kaivax, a community manager for Blizzard Entertainment, announced that Torn worked on the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm soundtrack, "adding burning leads and strange textures to the Zerg palette on several tracks."
In January 2013, Torn delivered a solo guitar performance and talk at TEDx Caltech 2013: The Brain. The presentation focused on his brain tumor diagnosis and subsequent recovery. A video of the event is available on the TEDx Caltech website.
- Chute EP (2010)
- Prezens (2007)
- splattercell: OAH (2001)
- splattercell: AH (2001)
- splattercell: Textures for Electronica and Film Music (2000)
- GTR OBLQ Vernon Reid, Elliott Sharp, David Torn (1998)
- What Means Solid, Traveller? (1996)
- Tripping Over God (1995)
- Earthbeat (1995) — with Bebo Baldan
- Polytown Karn, Bozzio, Torn (1994)
- Door X (1990)
- Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987)
- Best Laid Plans (ECM, 1985)
- tonal textures
- pandora's toolbox
Film and television
- That Awkward Moment — (composer) soundtrack (2014)
- Admission — (musician) soundtrack (2013)
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - (composer) soundtrack (2013)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — (musician) soundtrack (2012)
- The Lincoln Lawyer — (musician) soundtrack (2011)
- Jesus Henry Christ — (composer) soundtrack (2011)
- Glee (TV series) — The Power of Madonna (2010) (writer: "What It Feels Like for a Girl" - uncredited)
- Teenage Paparazzo — (composer) soundtrack (2010)
- Howl — (musician) soundtrack (2010)
- Saint John of Las Vegas — (composer) soundtrack (2009)
- The Wackness — (composer) soundtrack (2008)
- Twilight — (musician) soundtrack (2008)
- Lars and the Real Girl — (composer) soundtrack (2007)
- No Country for Old Men (film) — (musician) soundtrack (2007)
- Anvil! The Story of Anvil — (composer: additional music) soundtrack (2007)
- The Departed — (musician) soundtrack (2006)
- Believe In Me — (composer) soundtrack (2006)
- Fur (film) — (musician) soundtrack (2006)
- March of the Penguins — (musician) soundtrack (2005)
- Friday Night Lights — (composer) soundtrack (2004)
- The Order — (composer) soundtrack (2003)
- S1M0NE — (musician) soundtrack (2003)
- Adaptation — (musician) soundtrack (2002)
- A Knight's Tale — (musician) soundtrack (2001)
- Traffic (2000 film) — (musician) soundtrack (2000)
- Velvet Goldmine — (musician) soundtrack (1998)
- The Big Lebowski — (musician) soundtrack (1998)
- Love is the Devil — (musician) soundtrack (1998)
- Smoke Signals (film) — (musician) soundtrack (1998)
- A Dangerous Woman (1993 film) — (musician) soundtrack (1998)
- Shadow Man, Tim Berne (ECM, 2013) (producer)
- The Next Day, David Bowie (Iso, 2013)
- Levin / Torn / White, Levin Torn White (2011)
- In the Pink (album), Donna Lewis (2008)
- Playground, Manu Katché (2007)
- Once Again (John Legend album), John Legend (Epic, 2006)
- Legs to Make Us Longer, Kaki King (Epic, 2004)
- Souls Saved Hear, Big Satan (2004)
- Jeff, Jeff Beck (Epic, 2003)
- Reality, David Bowie (Iso, 2003)
- Scarlet's Walk, Tori Amos (2002)
- Science Friction, Tim Berne (2002)
- The Sevens, Tim Berne (2002)
- Heathen, David Bowie (Iso, 2002)
- Oil Tan Bow, Douglas September (2001)
- Life on a String, Laurie Anderson (Nonesuch, 2001)
- Music (Madonna album), Madonna (entertainer) (2000)
- B.L.U.E. Nights, Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (2000)
- Waters of Eden, Tony Levin (Narada, 2000)
- Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (Discipline Global Mobile, 1998)
- Seven Veils, Robert Rich (Hearts of Space, 1998)
- Drag (k.d. lang album), k.d. lang (1997)
- Jason's Chord, Andy Rinehart (1995)
- 3 Pound Universe, Wes Martin (1995)
- Building the Colossus, Happy Rhodes (Aural Gratification, 1994)
- Mark Isham, Mark Isham (Gold Rush, 1990)
- Castalia, Mark Isham (Virgin Record America 1988)
- Secrets of the Beehive, David Sylvian (Virgin, 1987)
- Without Warning, Everyman Band, Everyman Band (ECM, 1985)
- It's OK to Listen to the Gray Voice, Jan Garbarek (ECM, 1985)
- Everyman Band, Everyman Band (1982)
- "david torn official site". Davidtorn.net. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "David Torn - Fate is not completely decided". Innerviews. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "David Torn | tedxcaltech.com". Tedxcaltech.caltech.edu. 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "David Bowie's Guitarist Talks 'The Next Day' Album: 'I've Been Under A Gag Order For Six Months'". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "David Torn - Filmography - Movies & TV - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "That Awkward Moment (2014)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "No Country For Old Men". Carter Burwell. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "David Torn | Credits". AllMusic. 1953-05-26. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "Velvet Goldmine". Carter Burwell. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- "The Big Lebowski (1998)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- [dead link]
- "Andy Rinehart - Isn't being wrong right?". Innerviews. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
- [dead link]
- Official David Torn site
- David Torn interview with Anil Prasad of Innerviews (1990)
- David Torn interview Anil Prasad of Innerviews (1995)
- David Torn interview Anil Prasad of Innerviews (2001)
- David Torn interview Anil Prasad of Innerviews (2012)
- Electronic Musician profile (2001)
- Review of prezens at JazzChicago.net
- Chute EP on iTunes