Christopher Burns is a composer, improviser, and multimedia artist. His instrumental chamber works weave energetic gestures into densely layered surfaces. Polyphony and multiplicity also feature in his electroacoustic music, embodied in gritty, rough-hewn textures. As an improviser, Christopher combines an idiosyncratic approach to the electric guitar with a wide variety of custom software instruments. Recent projects emphasize multimedia and motion capture, integrating performance, sound, and animation into a unified experience. Across all of these disciplines, his work emphasizes directionality, layering and intercutting a variety of trajectories to create form.
Both electronic and acoustic music are influenced by Christopher's work as a music technology researcher. His improvisation software designs incorporate a variety of unusual user interfaces for musical performance, and explore the application and control of feedback for complex and unpredictable sonic behavior. In the instrumental domain, he uses algorithmic procedures to create distinctive pitch and rhythmic structures and elaborate them through time. Christopher is also an avid archaeologist of electroacoustic music, creating and performing new digital realizations of classic music by composers including John Cage, György Ligeti, Alvin Lucier, Conlon Nancarrow, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
A committed educator, Christopher teaches music composition and technology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previously, he served as the Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, after completing a doctorate in composition there in 2003. He has studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Berger, Michael Tenzer, and Jan Radzynski.
Christopher is also active as a concert producer. He co-founded and produced the strictly Ballroom contemporary music series at Stanford University from 2000 to 2004, and has contributed to the sfSoundGroup ensemble in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003. Since 2006, he has served as the artistic director of the Unruly Music festival in Milwaukee.