glenn branca

Glenn Branca explained that his Double Guitar was “designed to bring out single harmonics or clusters of harmonics that exist on the length of a string up to the limits of the range of hearing or the amp being used.” Photo courtesy of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida Southwestern State College.

Elliott Sharp pays tribute to an experimental guitarist and composer who believed in the power of “ghost instruments”—sometimes conjured in his symphonies by 100 guitars.

Editor’s note: Glenn Branca, the composer and guitar innovator, died on Sunday, May 13, from throat cancer. Branca was known for creating storm-roiled seas of 6-string sound, conjured with alternate tunings, repetition, volume, and his brilliant harmonic explorations. Guitarist and composer Elliott Sharp, who knew Branca as a fellow member of New York City’s avant-garde and experimental music scene, shares his memories and impressions of Branca in this tribute.

The notorious Mudd Club, downtown N.Y.C., October 1979. On a foray to the City from the wilds of western Massachusetts, I was anxious to scope out possibilities in the Big Ashtray before making my move. I had been resonating deeply with the “no wave” scene, as personified by the Contortions, Lydia Lunch, Mars, and DNA—all represented on the Brian Eno-produced compilation No New York.

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