Scott Johnson (composer)

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Scott Johnson (born 1952) is an American composer known for his pioneering use of recorded speech as musical melody. He was the recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim fellowship.[1]

John Somebody[edit]

His 1982 work John Somebody for electric guitar and recorded speech is an early example of speech melody framed in tonal harmony. It is named for the prominent tape loop of a single female voice, repeating variations on the phrases

You know who's in New York?
You remember that guy... J-John somebody?
He was a-- he was sort of a--...

Johnson's early works were created long before the advent of digital music editing. Creating tape loops like this meant actually cutting and splicing long strips of magnetic tape into loops, running them through a player to dub onto a destination tape.

Seminal works of the minimalist music by Steve Reich including It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) have been of major importance for Scott Johnson's compositions using the speaking language and tape loops to produce music.[2]

Other work[edit]

Johnson is also known for his distinctive crossing of American vernacular and art music traditions, making extensive use of electric guitar in concert works, and adapting popular music structures for art music genres such as the string quartet.

Johnson has been widely commissioned by artists including the Kronos Quartet (Short Stories) and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He lives in New York City.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Guggenheim Foundation 2006 Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. 2006. Archived from the original on October 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  2. ^ Keith Potter, Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, 2000, Cambridge University Press, p247, ISBN 0-521-01501-4.

External links[edit]