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Stephen Nachmanovitch

Stephen Nachmanovitch

Stephen Nachmanovitch is a musician, author, computer artist, and educator. He is an improvisational violinist, and writes and teaches about improvisation, creativity, and systems approaches in many fields of activity.


Born on November 2, 1950, Nachmanovich studied at Harvard University and the University of California at Santa Cruz , where he earned a PhD in the History of Consciousness for an exploration of William Blake . His mentor was the anthropologist and philosopher Gregory Bateson . He has taught and lectured widely in the United States of America on the subject of creativity and the spiritual underpinnings of art. In the 1970s he was a pioneer in free improvisation on violin, viola and electric violin [1] and opened up many techniques now used in electroacoustic music. He has presented master classes and workshops at the Yehudi Menuhin Schooland Juilliard . He has had numerous appearances on radio, television, and at music and theater festivals. He has collaborated with other artists in music, dance, theater, and film, and has developed programs in melding art, music, literature, and computer technology. He has published articles in a variety of fields since 1966, and is the author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Penguin-Tarcher, 1990). Much of his teaching beyond music and the arts relates to the universality of improvisation and creativity in all fields of life, and the accessibility of improvisational process to each person at each moment [2]

It is the most normal thing in the world to improvise. We improvise every time we say a sentence, but we are told that we are in the process of being creative. the time. [3]

In the 1980s and 1990s he created computer music software The World Music Menu (first developed 1987, new versions through 2007), [4] and the visual music software tools Zmusic (first presented at the Visual Music Alliance, Los Angeles, 1987) and Visual Music Tone Painter (first developed 1992, new versions through 2007). [5]

In the years following the millennium improvised concerts on violin, viola, electric violin and viola d’amore, both solo and in partnership with other musicians, dancers, and theater artists, reading and teaching workshops on improvisation, writing Gregory Bateson on the subject of modern thought, and visual music and other multimedia works.

He has served on the boards of the International Society for Improvised Music, [6] the New Violin Family Association [7] and the Bateson Idea Group.



  • Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Penguin-Tarcher, 1990). ISBN  0-87477-631-7 . Translations in German as Das Tao Der Kreativtat (OW Barth, 2008) / Free Play. Kreativität geschehen lassen (Droemer & Knaur 2013), Spanish as Free Play (Paidos, 2003 & Planeta, 1991), Swedish as Spela Fritt (Bo Ejeby Forlag, 2004), Portuguese as Ser Criativo (Summus Editorial, 1993), Korean as Play (Ecos, 2008), Italian as Il gioco libero della vita: Trovare the voce del cuore con l’improvvisazione (Feltrinelli Editore, 2013), Greek as Δημιουργικότητα στη ζωή και στην τέχνη – Η δύναμη του Αυτοσχεδιασμού(Aiora Press, 2013), in Japanese as Free Play (Film-Art Sha, 2014).
  • “Gregory Bateson: Old Men’s Worth to Be Explorers”, Coevolution Quarterly, 1981, Leonardo, 1986, German translation in Bevußtseins (R) evolution, Julius Beltz Verlag, 1983.
  • “Global Thinking” with Abdul Aziz Said , 1987. The Acorn, A Gandhian Review. March 1987.
  • “Saving the Cat” in The Soul of Creativity , Tona Pearce Myers Ed .: New World Library, 1999. ISBN  1-57731-077-2 .
  • “Bateson and the Arts,” Kybernetes 36: (7/8), 2007.
  • Bateson ‘s Epistemology and the Rhythms of Life, ” Ultimate Meaning and Reality , 2008.
  • “This is play,” New Literary History , 2009.
  • “An Old Dinosaur,” Kybernetes 42: (9/10), 2013.
  • “Freedom,” Psychoanalytic Dialogues Vol 11 no 5, The Analytic Press, 2001.
  • “Viola d’amore, Magical Improv Vehicle,” Journal of the Viola d’amore Society of America , Vol. 34 No. 1, 2010.
  • “Equals, Snapshots, Presence: ISIM, The International Society for Improvised Music,” NewMusicBox , American Music Center, 2009.
  • “Genio” – Spanish translation of “Genius” from Genius & Magic. TalentLab, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2001.
  • “The Year 2000 is a State of Mind,” in Voices on the Threshold of Tomorrow: 145 Views of the New Millennium, edited by Georg & Trisha Feuerstein. Quest Books, 1993.
  • “Two on Play,” New Realities 11: 3, 1991.


  • Moon Music & Trumpetvine Sonata , 1979.
  • Earth’s Answer , 1982.
  • Free Play , with Ron Fein, 1984.
  • Wheel of Time , 1991.
  • Merging at Merging One , with Ellen Burr, 1991.
  • Electric and Acoustic Improvisations, Vol. 1 , with Timothy Summers, 2005.
  • Ludi Fecundus , 2007.
  • Saraswati Steps Up to Bat , 2007.
  • Stillness , as Sixth Sense, with Karlton Hester, Stephen Nachmanovitch, and Stephanie Phillips 2009.
  • Impermanence , 2012.


  • Job’s Returns: A meditation of William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job , Music and Multimedia by Stephen Nachmanovitch, 2002.
  • Vocal Music : Interactive Visual Music / Synesthesia Installation of Visual Music Tone Painter , at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Lemelson Center, 2000.
  • Steps , Haystack Mountain Institute, 2009.
  • Taming the Ox and Theater Games , 2006, DVD, Blue Cliff Records.
  • Unstoppable , VIsual and computer music, 2000.
  • Visual Music Tone Painter : computer software, multimedia generation tool. 1992.
  • Zmusic computer software, multimedia generation tool. 1987.
  • First Life , visual music film, 1966-86, Premiere at UCLA, Schoenberg Hall, 1986.
  • Music for Rachel’s Brain , with Rachel Rosenthal, 1986-88, Documenta Festival, Bielefeld Germany, and festivals in Brussels, Granada, Los Angeles and New York.
  • Path of Light , visual music, 1985.
  • Doors of Perception , visual music, Berkeley Moving Arts, 1979.
  • The Four Zoas , visual music based on William Blake, Berkeley, CA 1978.


  1. Jump up^ All Music Guide on Stephen Nachmanovich
  2. Jump up^ S. Virato, “Interview with Stephen Nachmanovich”,New Frontier Magazine(September 1990), 8.
  3. Jump up^ Quoted by Channing Gray, “Improvising on the violin: Stephen Nachmanovich fills his concerts with musical insights,”Providence Sunday Journal,May 27,1990.
  4. Jump up^ Scott Wilkinson, “World Music Menu”,Electronic Musician Magazine(September 1995), 114-19); and “Editors’ Choice Awards”,Electronic Musician Magazine(January 1996), 96).
  5. Jump up^ SIGART (2000). “Intelligence, new visions of artificial intelligence in practice” . 11 . Association for Computing Machinery.
  6. Jump up^ “International Society for Improvised Music” .
  7. Jump up^ “New Violin Family Association” .