Jordan Watson

A native of Ferndale, Washington, Jordan Watson grew up in a musical household where he began composing and playing both violin and guitar in his childhood. In 2003, while a sophomore in high school, he and five friends founded the progressive rock, funk, and experimental improvisation band, Savage Henry. Playing many shows in Bellingham, WA and its surrounding areas, Savage Henry would serve both as a catalyst for Jordan wanting to study music in-depth, and as an outlet for applying those soon-to-be learned concepts for eight years. By his senior year of high school, Jordan was playing violin in the Advanced Chamber Orchestra, upright bass in the Symphonic Orchestra, guitar in the newly-formed Jazz Band, and had spent the previous year in an independent study class learning collective improvisation techniques with his Savage Henry bandmates.

In the fall of 2005, Jordan began his studies at Western Washington University, entering the Composition program in 2007 under Dr. Roger Briggs, Dr. Bruce Hamilton, and Dr. Lesley Sommer. During his time at Western, he immersed himself in the conventions of Western art music and discovered his passion for electronic and electro-acoustic music. In addition to his compositional studies, he actively pursued many other facets of music, including three years of classical guitar under David Feingold and two years of audio engineering courses and independent study through Fairhaven College under the instruction of Jackson Long and Chris Vita. Jordan earned his B.M. in composition from Western in 2011. From 2014 to 2016, Jordan continued to study music at the University of California, Irvine in an M.F.A program called Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT). Working with Kojiro Umezaki, Lukas Ligeti, Dr. Chris Dobrian, Dr. Michael Dessen, Nicole Mitchell, and Kei Akagi, Jordan focused on ways to create interactive music systems that allow performers, computers, and participatory audiences to perform together based on collective decision-making processes. His culminating M.F.A. thesis concert and paper explored the concepts of social choice and voting systems and how they might be incorporated into music composition and improvisation.

Jordan often explores the area between popular, classical, and experimental music as a result of his musical background and influences, which include Frank Zappa, John Zorn, and a myriad of twentieth and twenty-first century composers. His approach is one of eclecticism, fusion, and almost always involves the blurring of the line between composition and improvisation. He received the first place award for the WWU Composition Competition in both 2010 and 2011. He worked closely with Dr. Bruce Hamilton to help coordinate, organize, run sound, and perform for the Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival in 2009 and 2011, MiniFest in 2010, the ElectroAcoustic InterExchange between the WWU and University of Montana electroacoustic departments in 2008 and 2009, and the performance of Bruce’s collective improv group, Mindmelds, at the Abstract Music in the Park (AMP) festival in 2011. Jordan had the opportunities to play on the same bill as Vieux Farka Toure, Cuong Vu, and Christopher DeLaurenti, run sound for Morton Subotnick, Lydia Kavina, and The Books, and participate in composition lessons with Samuel Adler and Wayne Horvitz. Two of his pieces, a solo electric guitar and processing piece and a group improv piece, were released on compilations under the netlabel Spectropol Records.

During his time in Southern California over the last five years, Jordan has composed and played guitar for the Los Angeles band Goldilocks Planet, created miniature electroacoustic pieces for events hosted by the Facebook group Society for Shorty New Music (sFSYnm), composed music for a video advertisement as well as a mini-documentary, and worked as a freelance music copyist. He also spent time as an intern at Swing House Recording and Rehearsal Studios in Hollywood. Jordan currently resides in Bellingham, WA where he continues to pursue music professionally and academically.

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