David Watson

A musician whose primary instrument is the bagpipes, David Watson is interested and inspired by Donald Judd’s predilection for pibroch, the classical music of the Great Highland Bagpipe. As Watson notes: “The connections between pibroch and Judd’s work and interests—pattern, space, and variation are well known.” While at Chinati, Watson plans to compose and to connect sonically with the landscape through an instrument that is traditionally played outdoors.

Watson is an experimental musician and composer. He has a longstanding commitment to interdisciplinary practices and to intelligent listening. Starting as a guitarist, he was integral to the noise music scene that centered on The Knitting Factory, the New York East Village nightclub, and gallery dedicated to the avant-garde. Watson began performing as a bagpipe player over 30 years ago, having been drawn to the potential of a droning instrument that struck him as inherently avant-garde. His own compositions are extended soundscapes that unfold as if in resistance to a melodic center. He described a recent recording with ten tracks each of guitar and bagpipe as a monument that doesn’t develop, a shimmering mass of slowly shifting pitches.

David Watson has organized improvisational music festivals and marching pipe-band processions. As a presenter, he founded the series WOrK, to survey what experimental means today. He had performed and recorded extensively with Christian Marclay, Chris Mann, Ikue Mori, Phill Niblock, and Lee Renaldo. He has created scores for choreographers and artists, including Matthew Barney, Cindy Bernard, and Moriah Evans, and premiered a piece by Robert Ashley. This November he will perform three shows with favorite collaborators, including Yasunao Tone, at John Zorn’s venue The Stone.