Chiyoko Szlavnics

Born 1967, Ontario


Chiyoko Szlavnics has been composing music that combines acoustic instruments and sinewaves since around the year 2004. This combination of sound sources produces music that shimmers with aspects of sound not usually audible in music that is concerned with fast-changing scenarios. Her slow music allows certain details of sound, including certain psychoacoustical phenomena to come to the fore. These include the rhythmic beating (or rippling) produced by non-unison pitches, as well as combination tones that are produced by some ratio-based intervals. In Szlavnics’ music, such ‘unnoticed’ aspects of sound become essential aspects of her musical material, and thus, of the listening experience. It could be said that the listener listens to the music with a ‘heightened awareness’ – because such an awareness is necessary for perceiving such delicate details of sound, which are practically ephemeral.

Szlavnics studied at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, and later studied composition privately with James Tenney. She relocated to Germany on a Fellowship Grant from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in 1997. The following year, Szlavnics moved to Berlin, and gradually developed her unique approach to composing. Her drawings have served as the basis for most of her compositions since 2004, including works for small and large chamber ensembles, orchestras, and purely electronic pieces.

Szlavnics’ music has been performed at international festivals, including Maerzmusik, Donaueschinger Musiktage, and Tectonics, and has been performed across North America and Europe by various ensembles, including Wet Ink, yarn/wire, Ensemble Transmission, Quatour Bozzini, Asasello Quartett, Musikfabrik, and solo musicians such as Eve Egoyan, Kenneth Karlsson, Dirk Rothbrust, and Ute Wassermann. Her drawings have been exhibited in Toronto, London, Berlin, and Donaueschingen. Szlavnics has written numerous articles, and her work has been featured in numerous publications and radio portraits. Two portrait CDs of Chiyoko Szlavnics’ music have been published to date: Gradients of Detail on the World Edition label, released in 2013; and During a Lifetime, issued by Another Timbre in 2017.

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