MSU Alumnus wins two prestigious awards

June 15, 2021 - MSU Composition

MSU Alumnus Doug McCausland (MM 2017) has won a prestigious 2021 Prix Ars Electronica Digital Musics and Sound Art Award of Distinction and 1st Prize in the 2021 ASCAP/SEAMUS Commissioning Program for his work Convergence for Augmented Double-Bass and Interactive Electronics​ Performer.

Convergence is a work of great virtuosity, energy, and expression. It features a duet between composer and electronics performer Douglas McCausland and augmented double bassist Aleksander Gabryś. This dynamic and often chaotic work takes musical gestures to extremes. The duet begins as collaboration and equal conversation but shifts dramatically towards the electronics performer controlling the bassist. The bass is fitted with both microphones and transducers, allowing the bass to serve both as the generator for unusual and extreme sounds, and as a resonance chamber for external sounds. Meanwhile, machine learning is used to classify gestures of the electronics performer, linking these to audio controls. The work is successful in part due to its technological intricacy, but even more fundamentally from the extremely convincing and committed performance by the two musicians. (Prix Ars Electronic Press Release)

Doug is a composer / performer and digital artist currently based out of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA. Fascinated with new aesthetic and technological domains, his often chaotic and dense works explore the extremes of sound and the digital medium. Through his work, he investigates the various intersections of real-time electronic music performance with handmade interfaces / instruments, spatial audio (higher-order ambisonics and binaural), dynamic / interactive systems, the musical applications of machine-learning, experimental sound design, and DIY electronics / hardware-hacking.


His works have been performed internationally at festivals and symposiums including: Sonorities (SARC), SEAMUS, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, Splice Institute, MISE-EN Music Festival, Klingt Gut!, Sounds Like THIS!, Electronic Music Midwest, NYCEMF, Sonicscape, CEMEC, Eureka!, and CEMICircles. Notable events include a performance and installation series at the Talbot Rice Gallery and the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, UK, and an installation at Stanford University’s Anderson Collection as part of “CCRMA x Anderson: Sound Happenings”. Recent honors include a finalist nomination for the 2021 ASCAP/SEAMUS commission competition, winning the gold-prize for “contemporary computer music” in the Verband Deutscher Tonmeister Student 3D Audio Production Competition, and being awarded the runner-up nomination for the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music's 2019 CIME Prix. Douglas’ love of collaboration has led him to work with many incredible performers such as: the TAK Ensemble, bassist Aleksander Gabryś, cellist Seth Parker Woods, the Quasar Saxophone Quartet, and vocal ensemble Variant 6. Douglas’ music is available through various online platforms, and on SEAMUS, Plyta Z Audiomatu, and Jikken Records.

Douglas is currently a DMA candidate at Stanford University, working towards his doctorate in Composition while studying with Chris Chafe, Patricia Alessandrini, Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano, and Mark Applebaum.  In the years preceding his doctoral studies he completed an MSc in Digital Composition and Performance at the University of Edinburgh under Martin Parker and Tom Mudd. Prior to that, he completed an MM in Music Composition at Michigan State University, studying with Mark Sullivan, Lyn Goeringer, and Ricardo Lorenz. Douglas additionally holds a BM in Music Theory and Composition, Saxophone Performance, and Music Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he studied composition with Kimberly Archer.