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Composition has been a major component of Mark Taylor’s vision for his entire professional life, further stimulated by his experience as a protégé of the legendary composer, percussionist, NEA Jazz Master and MacArthur Fellow Max Roach. It was additionally enhanced through his work as a heavily in-demand French Hornist with such extraordinary contemporary composers as Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith and Muhal Richard Abrams, being one of the few musicians to have successfully integrated the notoriously difficult instrument into the landscape of jazz and improvised music.

When he was unfortunately stricken with Embouchure Dystonia bringing his career as a horn player to a halt, Mark turned potential tragedy into a blessing by shifting his full focus to the art of composing, setting in motion the fulfillment of a life-long goal.

Even while his Horn career was in full swing, Mark had often been commissioned to compose for theatre, dance, and the concert stage. In addition to several new chamber works, including “3 Songs About Puppetry” (commissioned by John A. Putnam, principal Hornist of the Michigan Philharmonic), Mark composed and recorded the score for “Last Days of Coney Island”, the 2015 film by famed animator/director Ralph Bakshi; served as composer in residence for the Bard College Contemporary Jazz Composers Ensemble and scored several award-winning films for Scrawny Strange Productions, including “You’re Never Alone” "Colton's Quest" and “Sinnamon Claus”.

Other recent projects included “It’s Not Like He’s Never Been There Before”, a multi-movement orchestral work, commissioned by Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation and premiered by the Tri-Centric Orchestra in New York City, and a series of transcriptions of the work of seminal African American and pre-jazz bandleader James Reese Europe’s 369th “Hellfighters” military band for the Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble. Taylor has released four CDs of all original material, QuietLand, Circle Squared, At What Age and Live At The Freight (with composer/saxophonist Jessica Jones).

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New Music from the Taylorverse

Commissions, Recordings & Media Music


Videos and Such

Films, Performances, YouTube & Other Cool Stuff

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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.

Blood Reckoning - Short (Horror)

A U.S. Marshall tracks down a fugitive serial killer before they murder again.

Score Relief 2021 | "Spring" 

Papreeka Claus (2023 Holiday Short Film)

#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.

Animation "Spring" courtesy of the #Blender​ Foundation:

Papreeka Claus, one of Santa's daughters, makes her fantastic hot chocolate for a Christmas grump. No tamales were set on fire for the making of this film...


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."

Peppament Claus (Holiday Short Film)

Peppament, one of Santa's daughters (she's the bad one!), gets caught stealing gifts from a girl's home on Christmas Eve.


A girl receives strange video messages of herself drowning.

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!

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Bands, Ensembles and Special Projects


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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



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

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  • 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 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)

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