The first neural goldberg CD, Still Life With Juggling Brick, is now available from FTAM.

"New electronic mayhem from the duo of J. Soliday (Chicago) and Christopher Burns (Philadelphia). In their work as neural goldberg, Soliday and Burns emphasize instrument-building - the assemblage of modular synthesis hardware and digital software - alongside improvised performance. The two artists design semi-autonomous constructs that deploy complex feedback paths alongside a a variety of algorithmic techniques, to generate kaleidoscopic and ever-changing electronic music. Burns and Soliday run their systems in parallel, listening, recording, and occasionally nudging, guiding, and directing the machines as they deem necessary.

The result is an intense, idiosyncratic dialogue, reflecting the merged aesthetics of the two musicians. Laden with twists and turns, these electronic improvisations build on previous neural goldberg releases Flash Fouls (2020), doppler dopplegänger (2021), and strange and marvelous turtles of happiness (2021), and further establish the duo’s distinctive voice: noisy, playful, dissonant, layered, unpredictable, energetic, and with a keen sense of humor."


Christopher Burns is a composer, improviser, and music technologist. His current projects revolve around the creation and performance of new software-based musical instruments, designed to facilitate the layering and combination of patterns and gestures using a kaleidoscopic range of synthetic sounds. These instruments systematize Christopher’s favored compositional logics - approaches to variation, trajectory and form - and enable dynamic and expressive interactions with other musicians in the heat of collaborative improvisation.

This work builds upon Christopher’s experience as a composer of electroacoustic and instrumental chamber music, as an improvising guitarist, and as a creator of algorithmically-edited video and abstract digital animation. Generative and algorithmic approaches to artmaking are a continuous thread in his work. His instrumental scores make use of algorithmic procedures for the elaboration of distinctive pitch and rhythmic designs. Structured improvisation pieces emphasize the use of procedure and process in spontaneous music-making, using materials ranging from flowcharts to decks of custom playing cards. And code serves as the fundamental tool for all of Christopher’s work in electronic music.

In addition to his own electroacoustic creations, Christopher is an avid archaeologist of electronic music, developing and performing new digital realizations of music by Cage, Ligeti, Stockhausen and others. He crafted the electronics for the premieres of Alvin Lucier’s Tilted Arc and Flips, and his album of Luigi Nono's La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura, made in collaboration with violinist Miranda Cuckson, was named a "Best Classical Recording of 2012" by The New York Times.

Collaboration is a key part of Christopher’s practice; he performs electronics regularly in neural goldberg (with J. Soliday) and Bridges of Königsberg (with Peter J. Woods and David Collins), and records a weekly improvisation for the LV2MKRT podcast with bassist Scott Worthington. Ensemble work as an electric guitarist includes Tanngrisnir (with percussionist Trevor Saint), Scrawl (with instrument-builder Hal Rammel), and Minor Vices, a Milwaukee-based sextet he led from 2012-2015.

Christopher has extensive experience as a concert producer. He co-founded and produced the strictly Ballroom contemporary music series at Stanford University from 2000 to 2004, directed the Unruly Music series at UW-Milwaukee from 2006 to 2016, and has served as a contributing director for the sfSound ensemble in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003. Christopher completed a doctorate in music at Stanford University and its Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA); his mentors in composition include Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Berger, Michael Tenzer, and Jan Radzynski. He lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.

© 2023 Christopher Burns. All rights reserved.