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Robert Coburn, Ph.D.

Program Director for Music Composition and Professor of Music Composition and Theory


Phone: 209.946.2186


B.M., University of the Pacific

M.A., University of California-Berkeley

Ph.D., University of Victoria in Canada

Robert Coburn, professor of music composition and theory, has been at the University of the Pacific since 1993. He holds a B.M. from the University of the Pacific, the M.A. from the University of California-Berkeley, and the Ph.D. from the University of Victoria in Canada. Dr. Coburn is active as a composer and an environmental sound artist and is Chair of the Conservatory's Department of Music Studies. He is also Program Director for Composition and Music Theory, and Artistic Director of the SoundImageSound International Festival of New Music and Video.

During the 2011-12 academic year Dr. Coburn was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award for lecturing and research in Japan where he was affiliated with the Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku (Tokyo University of the Arts). During his time in Japan he lectured on new approaches to composing for music and video, and the development of new musical styles in the U.S. His research focused on the meeting points of deep traditional culture and new creative activities. He met with many composers and performers, and composed new works for gagaku instruments (sho, ryuteki, hichiriki), computer, and video.

Dr. Coburn's recent compositions include Kaze no Yume for sho, computer, and video (2011-12); emptiness [reflection] for alto saxophone, computer, and video (2010); Fragile Horizonfor viola, speaking voice, computer, and video commissioned by the Brubeck Institute for the Brubeck Festival (2007); In Stillness for violin, computer, and video premiered at the Brubeck Festival (2005); TranquilTurmoil Dreaming for computer music and video (2003);PatternsLuminous for shakuhachi and computer music (2002); Voice (verse 1) for computer sound, premiered at the Symposium En Red O, Barcelona, Spain (1999); and Shadowbox for clarinet, premiered at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden (1994). Among his commissioned works are: Ad Vesperum for voice and 11 instruments, for the San Francisco New Music Ensemble; CANTOS for chamber orchestra, for the Sunriver Music Festival;Marking Time/Hearing Space for multiple performers and interactive technology, for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; and Soundings, for multiple sampling keyboards, soprano saxophone, and tenor for the Portland Composers Festival.

Since 1985 Dr. Coburn has made computer technology his primary instrument. His recent computer music pieces are performed live utilizing Max/MSP/Jitter. He has performed his works at many events including the Western Oregon New Music Festival; the Electronic Music Plus Festival; the Forum '82 Festival of New Music in New York; and the Roulette Fall Festival of New Music, New York.

As a sound artist, Dr. Coburn creates both temporary and permanent site-specific sound environment works. His permanent works include Bell Circles II, commissioned by the Public Arts Program in Oregon for the landscape of the Oregon Convention Center; and 39 Bells, commissioned by the Public Arts Program of the City of Philadelphia for the Avenue of the Arts. Temporary sound installations include between... beyond for the Reynolds Gallery and Glasslight Presence for the Henry Gallery in Seattle. Documentation of his permanent sound installations was featured in the exhibition Nada: an experience in sound at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi, India.

Dr. Coburn's research involves interdisciplinary art projects realized across cultures, expressive technology that combines music and visual image in performance, and the interaction of music perception and composition. He has presented papers at the Asian Computer Music Project Conference, Tokyo, Japan; The Musical Cognition and Behavior: Relevance for Music Composition Conference, Rome, Italy; The Architecture/Music/Acoustics Conference, Toronto, Canada; The Pacific Centuries Conference, Melbourne, Australia; and The Tuning of the World Conference, Banff Center for the Arts, Canada. His writings have been published in Leonardo, Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology and Leonardo Music Journal, MIT Press; in Musical Behavior and Cognition: Relevance for Composing. Scientific Contributions to General Psychology - Psicologia Generale, Rome, Italy; and in Portland Review. He serves on the editorial board of the International Journal for Sound, Music, and Technology, and is a member of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology; the World Forum on Acoustic Ecology; and BMI.