Yasunao Tone

Yasunao Tone is an improvisational artist working in sound art. He is incredibly influential on sound art, musique concrete, and noise. He has worked with computers, compact discs, and a variety of other materials, and was a part of the Fluxus movement.

I’m a huge fan of Tone, and originally got into his stuff because of his collaboration with Russell Haswell on Editions Mego (one of the best labels in the world, I swear like half of my record collection is on Mego or one of their sub-labels, the GRM reissues are seriously worth their weight in gold).

Here is a performance by the Ensemble for Experimental Music and Theater of his 1963 Clapping Piece. I always forget that he did stuff outside of traditional sound art even as synthesis and musique concrete were becoming popular, but this video is a really great performance and a super fun piece.


Here is a video of him playing on the same bill as Tony Conrad. It’s a great live performance from both, and I’m just throwing this one in because Four Violins changed my life in high school so seeing Conrad share a bill with Tone is, in my mind, one of the coolest lineups of all time.

Obviously since I love Tone’s work, I’m definitely in the minority in this class, and since I know that everyone lurks each other’s blogs, I’ll say this. Artistic value should never be linked strictly to aesthetic pleasure. Tone’s work is textured, complex, and always rewarding.  It should definitely be evaluated in the context that Tone is placing his work in. There is a deep and rich history concerning live electronics, tape manipulation, and sound art, and Tone is one of the most important people in this art form.