In my professional life I have worn many hats: composer, improviser, orchestral freelancer, chamber musician, teaching artist, bandleader and studio musician (I was even in a rap video once...). My musical DNA contains healthy doses of classic Jazz, European Art Music, Film Scores and, oddly enough, late 70s R&B (well, Stevie Wonder and EWF anyway), among other things, all of which is filtered through an early love of superheroes, sci-fi and sword and sorcery books, comics and movies. I often see myself as a storyteller and I’ve always felt that my work should take listeners on a journey. I use instrumental color and timbre and range as characters to construct a musical story and allow the listener a little glimpse into the universe inside my head
- Mark Thomas Taylor
New Music from the Taylorverse
Commissions, Recordings & Media Music
Videos and Such
Films, Performances, YouTube & Other Cool Stuff
A Possible Theme for Sylvia Landry
A character theme sketch for the Oscar Micheaux movie "Within Our Gates" composed during a residency at the Banff Centre in 2019. The recording is from the performance we did on one of the weekly concerts during my stay there.
I'll never get over how much fun it is to have such wonderful musicians play something I wrote!
The purpose of the original piece was to get a sense of a theme that could represent the protagonist, Sylvia Landry, and her story.
Score Relief 2021 | "Spring"
#scorerelief2021 is a film scoring contest created by The Cue Tube in collaboration with the Backup Hardship Fund to raise money in support of technical workers from entertainment/events, and their families, who're experiencing covid-related difficulties.
MusicMovie #2 - Naked Ambition
So today I'm talking a little about writing to a brief and True Crime TV shows. It's pretty common in commercial music and is a way to let the composer know what kinds of music they're looking for. The fun part is you can get some very interesting genre mashups this way. Today's genre is... Appalachian Tension!
Spitfire Audio | Westworld Scoring Competition 2020
This is my entry for the Spitfire/Westworld Scoring Competition 2020. In this episode, Aaron Paul's character has been given a drug called "Genre" that makes the user experience their lives like a series of classic movies. As the chase starts, he "changes genres". So, I decided to go with a classic Quincy Jones/Lalo Schifrin (or, more recently, Michael Giacchino) style action/chase cue. Well, my version of it anyway...
LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND
a film by Ralph Bakshi.
"In the cheap glitter and glow of a fading Coney Island a group of characters live out their sordid, strange lives trying to get somewhere fast - any way they can. Desperately trying to love and be loved."
OUTSIDE LOOKING OUTSIDE STILL
new music for large ensemble
commissioned by the Contemporary Jazz Composers Ensemble at Bard College under the direction of Erica Lindsay.
Bands, Ensembles and Special Projects
Left-of-Center Creative Improvised Music
Created to explore concepts of drama and narrative in improvisational music, Secret Identity dissects and deconstructs Taylor’s often knotty compositions reconstructing them into ever shifting combinations of melody, harmony, rhythm and improvisation
VIEW FROM THE BALCONY
Jazz-influenced New Chamber Ensemble
View From the Balcony, a jazz-informed chamber ensemble, was formed in early 2018 to focus primarily upon Mark Taylor’s genre-spanning music. Comprised primarily of musicians with whom Mark performed for years in the ensembles of such extraordinary contemporary composers as Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith and Muhal Richard Abrams., VFtB will also be the core ensemble for Interrobang Arts’ new program of creating new scores for silent Black films.
A New Chamber / Creative Improvisation Ensemble,
Secret View(s) combines the improvisational energy of Secret Identity with the creative artistry of the members of View From the Balcony
Clinics, Masterclasses, Commissions
MASTERCLASSES / LECTURES
Reinvention of the Artistic Self
What I Do is not Who I Am - It is all too easy to conflate our identity with the activity that means the most to us. It is important to know who we are as creative individuals beyond the one specific expression of our creative selves we choose to put into the world.
My experience with Focal Dystonia - How this long-gestating neurological disorder slowly stripped away my ability to play the Horn, which precipitated a multi year crisis of identity and self-worth and also began a continuing search for the authentic Artist / Creative Being behind the Hornist / Composer / Improviser I used to be.
Keep Fighting or Move On - When the cornerstone of identity is compromised or taken away, how do we know WHEN the fight to return to our previous self has run it’s course. How do we know to move forward into whatever is next?
Composition - Having composed for many ensembles ranging from small jazz groups, chamber ensembles, big bands and symphony orchestra to music for films and production music libraries, Mark Taylor’s Master Class in Composition focuses upon the development of compositional techniques based upon applied music theory and a broad and varied base of influences. Mr. Taylor will also work with the students in identifying the particular tonal aspects and ranges of potential instrumentation, as well as incorporating various elements of arranging and orchestration.
Horn - Mark Taylor is one of the few players to have fully integrated the notoriously difficult French Horn into the fast-moving landscape of jazz and contemporary improvised music. The Masterclass in Jazz and Contemporary Horn playing focuses on the development of skills necessary for a Hornist to thrive in a contemporary jazz setting: chord / scale relationships, motivic and melodic improvisation, adapting and developing effective improvisational vocabulary, ensemble playing and creating a personal sound concept.
a recognized virtuoso on the French Horn, Mark Taylor’s one-on-one teaching includes proper warm ups, flexibility, scales and etudes, range building, repertoire development and improvisation.
PERFORMANCE BASED ACTIVITIES
Performance based activities are all offered in conjunction with concert performances by Mark Taylor. These performances can include Mr. Taylor’s own ensembles or can feature faculty and student musicians under his direction. All presentations include elements of student participation.
Ensembles will receive three pieces of music four weeks prior to the residency. The professor will work with the students to generally develop the pieces, and selecting the individual personnel for each piece. Mr. Taylor will then work with the student groups to add his own input and conception for the final presentation.
Original Mark Taylor music performed by school large ensemble / big band
SECRET IDENTITY (new jazz-based creative improv quintet)
VIEW FROM THE BALCONY (chamber ensemble)
SECRET VIEW(S) (combined chamber and creative improv ensemble)
ABOUT MARK THOMAS TAYLOR
Composer/Performer Mark Thomas Taylor has written new music for theatre, dance, film and the concert stage. In addition to several new chamber works, including “3 Songs About Puppetry” (commissioned by the principal Hornist of the Michigan Philharmonic), Mark has written and recorded the score for “Last Days of Coney Island” for famed animator/director Ralph Bakshi, placed two songs in the Dollface Productions independent feature film "The Girl" and scored the documentaries “9/11 Fear In Silence” for JadeFilms and Camille Billops’ "A String of Pearls”. Other projects include “It’s Not Like He’s Never Been There Before”, a multi-movement orchestral work, commissioned by the Tri-Centric Foundation and a series of transcriptions of the work of seminal jazz bandleader James Reese Europe’s 369th “Hellfighters” military band for the Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble. Mark has released four CDs of all original material, QuietLand, Circle Squared, At What Age and Live At The Freight (co-led with composer/saxophonist Jessica Jones).
One of the few performers to successfully integrate the notoriously difficult French Horn into the landscape of jazz and improvised music, Taylor’s broad musical background includes performing, composing and arranging. In addition to leading his own ensembles, Mark has also performed and recorded with an array of modern jazz giants including: Max Roach, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Muhal Richard Abrams and Anthony Braxton.