Bartlett, Martin

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Bartlett, Martin

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        Dates of existence

        1939-1993

        History

        Martin Bartlett was born in Croydon, England, in 1939, and grew up in Vancouver, BC when his family immigrated in 1952. He received Bachelor’s degrees in English (1960) and Music (1965) from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in Arts (1968) from Mills College, Oakland, where he studied electroacoustic music and composition with Terry Riley, Pandit Pranh Nath, and Pauline Oliveros.
        He was influenced by David Tudor and John Cage, having met Cage at Emma Lake in Saskatchewan in 1965. He was a founding member of the Western Front Society in Vancouver, an artist-run gallery, studio and performance space, and started the music program there in 1974. He taught composition at the University of Victoria (1974-1982) and later at Simon Fraser University (1982-1992), eventually becoming the first director of graduate studies for the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU.
        Bartlett took an early interest in building electronic instruments, working with Don Buchla, David Behrman and others. One of his synthesizers, the Black Box, is in this collection. He built it with Bill Hearn while studying at Mills College. The Black Box can be seen in performance at the Western Front in this archival footage: https://front.bc.ca/events/black-box/ He also worked extensively with his Buchla 400, a commercially available polyphonic synthesizer built by Don Buchla in the early 1980s. The Buchla 400 has a touch-sensitive keyboard that was designed to allow for non-traditional keyboard gestures to be used.
        Martin Bartlett had a great passion for the music of Indonesia, making several trips to south-east Asia in the 1970s and 1980s to learn in situ. He also visited India and Nepal on these trips. Many photographs of these trips, including of musicians and musical instruments (especially Gamelan), as well as shadow puppetry and dance from Indonesia (predominantly Java) are included in the archive. In the mid-1980s, Bartlett was responsible for bringing the Javanese Gamelan to Simon Fraser University. He spearheaded several large-scale productions at SFU featuring the Gamelan including a festival in the summer 1986 that coincided with a visit from Indonesian officials to Expo ’86, and The Gamelan Tempest in 1989, a cross-cultural show with music on the Gamelan and story-line from Shakespeare’s Tempest. The SFU Gamelan is still active as the Vancouver Community Gamelan.
        His own work was often collaborative and aleatoric, and he also worked in theatrical and mixed media environments. He made an important and original contribution to the development of live electronic music, devising elegant and open interactions for instrumental performers and computer-controlled synthesizer.
        He was passionately interested in sailing, and owned a sailboat on which he made numerous voyages around Canada’s west coast. He was particularly interested in natural world and in the traces of First Nations art in remote areas, taking many photographs of what he saw.
        Martin Bartlett died in 1993 of AIDS-related causes.

        Sources:
        Canadian Music Centre. (no date). Martin Bartlett: Biography. Retrieved from https://www.musiccentre.ca/node/37459/biography
        Bob Pritchard. (2018). Personal Communication about Martin Bartlett.
        Martin Bartlett Fonds. Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books.

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        Revised December 4, 2018 CM

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            Sources

            Canadian Music Centre. (no date). Martin Bartlett: Biography. Retrieved from https://www.musiccentre.ca/node/37459/biography
            Bob Pritchard. (2018). Personal Communication about Martin Bartlett.
            Martin Bartlett Fonds. Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books.

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