Michael Grigoni is a multi-instrumentalist who specialises in dobro, lap steel guitar, and pedal steel guitar. He has released several instrumental albums on Other Songs, and more recently, two albums on 12k, Mount Carmel and Slow Machines (with Stephen Vitiello). His latest album, Earth Awhile, is a collaboration with Chihei Hatakeyama and Stephen Vitiello on White Paddy Mountain.
Grigoni holds a PhD in religion from Duke University where he serves as the Assistant Director of Faculty Initiatives at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. He writes and teaches at the intersections of Christian theology, ethics, and ethnography. His work appears in the Journal of Moral Theology, Ecclesial Practices, Practical Theology, and Comment.
Bill Seaman’s artworks often investigate a media-oriented poetics through various technological means. Such works often explore the combination and recombination of media elements and processes in interactive and generative works of art. Seaman enfolds image, music and text relations in these works, often creating all of the media elements and articulating the operative media-processes involved. Recently Seaman has been exploring the creation of a transdisciplinary search engine related to Neosentience (a new approach to AI that is informed by the functionality of the human body through biomimetics and bio-abstraction) called The Insight Engine. Seaman sees this work is a mixture of conceptual art and science.
On April 8, 2022, Michael Grigoni accompanied a dance performance at the ChoreoLab Spring Dance Concert at Duke University. The performance was a work by Brooks Emanuel titled, What Should We Do, which arose out of a choreographic processes course taught at Duke by Michael Kliën. Grigoni’s accompaniment was an improvisation on lap steel guitar that responded to the movements of the dance ensemble, and it had a number of audio qualities related to room sound, the use of effects pedals, and the nature of the performance itself that Bill Seaman felt would be amenable to his style of composition. Seaman constructed a sample library from selected fragments of the performance and then composed an initial pass of The Long Sky using these samples, as well as samples from his own improvised piano performance. The piece then went through several iterations, with Michael adding additional lap steel from his home studio.
In The Long Sky, Grigoni and Seaman explore how elements of movement and dialogical exchange might be carried over from the space of an improvised music/dance performance to the arena of collaborative musical composition. Over the 2021–22 academic year, Grigoni participated in many such improvised dance performances in the context of Michael Kliën’s Lab for Social Choreography, providing music for choreographic situations involving both professional and non-professional dancers. He found that, within these performances, a feeling of openness, exploration, and experimentation naturally emerged between the musicians and dancers. The Long Sky explores how these qualities, preserved and made accessible in the form of samples, might inform and structure a collaborative composition that centres dialogical exchange—a call and response between piano and lap steel guitar.
Lap steel guitar and samples by Michael Grigoni.
Piano, sample construction and abstraction, and additional samples by Bill Seaman.
Initial mixing and production by Bill Seaman with final mixing by Michael Grigoni.
Recorded and mixed in the homes of Michael Grigoni and Bill Seaman in Durham, North Carolina in 2022.
The performance from which Grigoni’s lap steel guitar samples were derived was recorded by Christopher Scully-Thurston in The von der Heyden Studio Theater, Rubenstein Arts Center, Duke University, April 8, 2022.
Seaman’s piano samples were recorded by Rick Nelson in Bone Hall, Duke University, May 3, 2022.
Mastering by Taylor Deupree at 12k.