John C.L. Jansen dislikes sameness. He is active as a composer, multi-instrumentalist, experimental luthier, author, recording engineer, and teacher of music theory, currently based in Western New York.
John’s compositions are influenced by a reverence of nature, a love of patterns, and the energy of rock music. His roots are in minimalism, instilled with the vitality of rock guitar and the tuning theories of Glenn Branca. He currently divides his time between writing chamber works for existing instruments and ensembles, and writing for original instruments and tuning systems he designs himself. John’s music has been performed by the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, chamber band Drive (J:), Decho Ensemble, and the violinist Todd Reynolds.
John was a member of the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble from 2013-2015. Since then he has continued to make appearances with the ensemble. With the group he has appeared as sound engineer, composer, and documenter at the Strange Beautiful Music VI and VII new music marathons in Detroit MI, as well as three national parks tours: 2014, 2016, and 2018.
In 2016 John co-founded Drive (J:), a chamber band founded in Fredonia, New York. With Drive (J:) John has appeared at the 2018 New Music Gathering in Boston, MA, and released places/spaces, their first studio album. The band has shifted away form live performance and has restructured as a collective of creative minds.
As an instrument builder, John invented a 3rd bridge instrument called the tetrachord, a 9 ft amplified zither which allows the user to isolate string partials. He is also a builder of daxophones, a friction idiophone invented by Hans Reichel.
In 2017/18, John worked with Bang On a Can to restore Glenn Branca’s Movement Within, for an ensemble of original instruments tuned to Branca’s seven-octave overtone tuning. He worked directly with the original instruments and samples to bring the work back to life, where it was performed live on WNYC’s New Sounds.
As a theorist John wrote a paper on pitch fields in the music of Kaija Saariaho, which he presented at the Fostering New Music and its Audiences conference in 2015 at the University of Louisville. He is currently working on material covering Glenn Branca’s tuning system and instruments.
John currently resides in Western New York with a huge pile of instruments he built himself. He is currently on faculty at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he is an Adjunct Instructor. He teaches courses in music theory and aural skills.