Victor Gama. Credit: Najib Nafib.

Victor Gama

Victor Gama’s work addresses the relationship between instrument building and music composition, while using new technologies and the creative practices of Africa and the Diaspora.
Dancers wave long pieces of fabric in the air on a stone staircase.
Christopher Janney, "Soundstair On Tour, Rehearsal." 1979. Photograph: Anne Bray.

Music/Tech: Christopher Janney

In 1976, Christopher Janney was one of only four graduate students to enroll in MIT’s new masters program in Environmental Art, where he first began his formal experiments combining architecture and jazz under Otto Piene, Director of MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded in 1967. His thesis, “SOUNDSTAIR: The Nature of Environmental/Participatory Art,” was performed on many iconic stairways — from the Spanish Steps in Rome to MIT’s own Building 7 — in which the dancer’s footsteps would trigger sounds, altered in real-time by Janney. In essence, the entire building became a musical instrument.

A man plucks strings on a large instrument made of wood and strings.
Victor Gama plays the TOHA, 2012. Credit: Niklas Zimmer.

Visiting Artist Victor Gama Creates Futuristic New Instruments

Victor Gama is a composer whose process begins with the creation of an entirely new instrument, one whose design is steeped in symbolic meaning. Concept design, the selection of materials, fabrication, and scoring is all part of the rigorous way Gama creates new music for the 21st century, blending current fabrication technologies with ideas, materials, and traditions inspired by the natural world.