SFU Application

letter of application

Dear Hiring Committee,

Please accept this package as my application for the position of Assistant Professor of Music Composition in the School of Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. This position is particularly exciting for me as the experimental approach and interdisciplinary scope of the program resonates with my artistic practice and pedagogical outlook. For me, experimentalism as an artistic foundation teamed with interdisciplinary perspectives are necessary for contemporary composers entering the field in the current cultural climate - one in a state of continual reconfiguration. Contemporary composers need to be initiated in the practices of other arts disciplines, as well as, be able to engage with digital and web technologies, media theory, and philosophy - all of which are on offer in the School of Contemporary Arts. Additionally, the Gamelan classes are compelling to me because my first experience with contemporary chamber music was at an Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan Ensemble concert, which ultimately created a bridge from my involvement with pop/rock/indie music idioms to contemporary chamber music. As demonstrated in the proposed syllabus package, CV, portfolio and statement of teaching philosophy, you will find that my perspective and expertise are well suited for the aims of the program.

I think of my artistic practice as the confluence of two approaches to making music. Firstly, as an active and well regarded chamber music composer, my practice has grown out of my investigations into auditory perception/illusion, primarily building on Albert Bregman’s work in auditory scene analysis (ASA) by interpreting his theories and findings as compositional techniques for spatialized music as well as reinterpreting conventional composition techniques though an ASA lens for the same purposes. This has developed into an interest in exploring listening as a vital aspect of the composition process by incorporating ideas rooted in the psychology of perception, linguistics, music semiology, and nostalgia. Secondly, my compositional rhetoric involves setting up a musical context that is regularly reconfigured and intervened upon but never fully transformed, and allows for the listener’s attention to shift and stray with/without the piece. Primarily operating in an instrumental chamber music setting and often with subtle electro-acoustic augmentation, I frame my nuanced compositions with a delicate aesthetic surface that contains slight political nudges.

As a performer and sound artist, I am a busy electro-acoustic improviser and interdisciplinary collaborator that operates in experimental music and art scenes in Canada and the United States. In performance and installation contexts, I utilize elaborate and tangled signal-chains that consist of found objects, browser instruments, leveraged social media environments/extensions, patches made in visual programming languages (Pure Data and Max/MSP), FM radio broadcasting, and musical  instruments. I have collaborated with a number of international, national, and local luminaries, including Lina Allemano, Allison Cameron, Marc Couroux, Germaine Liu, Andrea Parkins, Hiroki Tsuromoto, and Jane Wood.

In the field of education, my experience is broad, and varied. I have logged hundreds of in-class teaching hours between two disciplines (music and English as a second language) with learners ranging in ages from elementary school-aged children to adult professionals. Additionally, I have been very active in curriculum/program development in both formal classroom and professional environments.

At York University, I held the position of grading assistant (GA) for Professor Art Levine’s Counterpoint and Harmony courses. During my time as GA, in addition to my grading duties, I delivered counterpoint and harmony lectures to classes of 100+ students, and developed my own tutorial for students seeking additional guidance. Additionally, I assisted course director Matt Brubeck with the delivery of the York University New Music Ensemble. During that time, I was responsible for selecting repertoire, conducting the ensemble, and assessing performance for the ensemble’s junior section (1st and 2nd year students), in addition to writing music for the entire group.

Over the past three years, I have led a number of innovative community education projects for young learners and early-career chamber music professionals. At the Regent Park School of Music, I had developed and delivered a music theory curriculum for preteen and adolescent learners called Create Play Understand, which took the class to through a collaborative composition/performance process centred around tasks that explored specific aspects of music theory. Similarly, for the past two years, I have designed and delivered a summer program that has been supported by the Canadian Music Centre and the Ontario Arts Council called Decoder: Music Lab. This free program for high school music students focusses on exploring ideas in contemporary Canadian chamber music as a foundation for a collaborative composition. These works were then performed by the participants alongside professional contemporary chamber music performers. Lastly, I helped to design and deliver an annual summer program for international early-career musicians and composers with the Toronto Creative Music Lab (TCML), which provides them with  an opportunity for artistic and professional development in the field of contemporary chamber music. With TCML, our non-hierarchical team strives to create a program that pushes toward a yet unimagined future in artistry and expression, connecting our social responsibilities, institutions, communities, audiences, arts, and each other. The program is recognized as holding a unique place among a new wave of early-career chamber music workshops.

I believe that my application offers an opportunity to include a unique, critical, and innovative approach to an education in music composition that is rooted in collaboration and interdisciplinarity. I encourage you to explore my website (www.jasondoell.com) for additional context for my practice. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. I look forward to hearing from the committee.




Jason Doell