Eliot Burk

Hi! I'm a composer of experimental and new classical music, a bass player, performance artist, and music teacher somewhere in California (I can move pretty quickly in my 2002 sedan). In my music, I try to unify disparate and seemingly paradoxical conceptions: control over the uncontrollable, intentional failure & amateurism against virtuosity & professionalism, anti-music & formalism, freedom & rigor, boredom & violence. Art at the intersection between experimental music, noise, ASMR videos, and high school physics demonstrations. To me, these conceptual realms (and others) are fertile ground for the delicious food of unusual experiences, which I like to serve to curious & brave audiences.

Many of my recent works explore instrumental physicality & performer perception during the act of performance. Scroll down to listen to and read about a few pieces. Further down there's some performance art I have done. At the bottom, you can listen to my podcast, "Outside Music Inside the Golden State," which features interviews & music of friends who make music I like.

I'm currently pursuing an MFA in Composition and Performance at the California Institute of the Arts. Curriculum Vitae

I love to collaborate! Things that I produce these days: scores, music performances, soundtracks, sound design, videos. I'm also excited about many other things, so feel free to send me an email about projects which don't fit neatly into these categories. My email: erburk@gmail.com






Some Music


About A composition I made with Z.A. Stenger on 7/11/2021. The impulse to compose it was triggered by an improvisation I did with Jeremy Rosenstock as a part of the Westben Performer-Composer Residency a few days earlier: Jeremy was playing with stones and shells, and I decided that water would be an appropriate accompaniment. When working with the water and tub only, quite a large variety of interesting actions were possible. The piece is structured around contrasts between different actions, which are then deconstructed through a developmental blurring, showing them to be elements of a singular fluid continuity. This process repeats until the music exhausts itself.



About I composed this piece to be performed by Robert Black as a part of the New Music on the Point 2021 festival. It started with a basic concept: a through-composed piece with highly specific notated musical material, combined with sounds which the performer could pick completely freely but had exactly-notated durations. This was an idea I have had for a while, but never had an appropriate opportunity to realize. NMOP was the perfect opportunity to finally do it, as I was writing for Robert Black, a highly skilled performer of composed music, and also a brilliant improviser. It was also great that we had not previously met, as his decisions regarding what sounds he would make would not be too tainted by his perception of my preference for those sounds, except for the context of the score. And you can hear for yourself: his interpretation turned out really quite lovely.



About A composition played on doors from around the world (but mostly at my house in California), basking in the extremely expressive musical language of door-hinges-as-instruments. In this excerpt, I spend some time pushing at the barrier between the perception of pitch and the perception of rhythm. The video is also entirely shots of doors around my house.
Extended version


About I hold each instrument of the string quartet facing the ground while walking slowly through a field, allowing the mustard grass to gently brush, strum, pluck, and bow the strings. Through this method, the shape, weight, & texture of the plants, as well as their pattern of growth across the field, become my direct compositional & performance collaborators. Performed March, 2021 in Corralitos, CA.



About Each piece in the series "String Quartets for Two Performers" presents an unusual approach to technique & the sculptural arrangement of the four instruments. Many pieces intertwine the actions of the two performers, so neither has full control over the resulting music. While in the realm of Extended Techniques, the goal here is not simply to make new noises, but rather new musical structures that reflect the physicality of our approach to the instruments.



More String Quartets for Two Performers


About In "Noncomposition in the Shape of a String Quartet: Bowed Wood," each performer traces their bow across the entire wooden surface of their instrument (skipping the strings), revealing the unique resonances, non-resonances, and pseudo-resonances of each portion of wood. Through this process of realization, the resulting sonic form becomes a projection of the performers' collective apprehension of the shape of the viole da braccio which underlies the construction, and history, of the four instruments.



About For two players each playing two instruments at the same time.

beside, on top of, as percussion, as 2nd bridge, violin as bow, fingers and hands digging in, swung through the air, scratching, rubbing, dropped, slid, slipped.



About In "Piece for Four Guitars in Scordatura," each instrument is tuned to a different scordatura derived from the overtones of the lowest string on the lowest instrument. Players engage 36+ musical cells allowing for varying degrees of improvisation, giving different lenses through which to reconsider their own instruments in light of the alien pitch world.



About The "grapes" are five short piano pieces I wrote in the Dashain (now Delores) UCSB Student Housing co-op living room. One piece per night for a week. Performed here by Jeremy Haladyna.






Some Performance Art and Installations



A Yearlong Performance Piece (2012)

Anything for Anyone (2012)

Choir Game No.1 (Zaq Kenefick, 2021)
Youtube Instagram


Interviews of Some Friends