Constance Demby, New Age Composer, Is Dead at 81
Constance Demby, whose ethereal music, a few of it performed on devices she designed, was a lot admired by New Age adherents, religious seekers and followers of electronica, died on March 19 in Pasadena, Calif. She was 81.
Her son and solely instant survivor, Joshua Demby, mentioned the trigger was issues of a coronary heart assault.
Ms. Demby’s 1986 album, “Novus Magnificat: Via the Stargate,” was a breakthrough for each her and the New Age style, promoting greater than 200,000 copies, a considerable determine for that sort of music. Pulse journal named it one of many high three New Age albums of the last decade and referred to as it “a landmark, full-length digital symphony paying homage to Baroque sacred music with crystalline results that take you out of the realm of on a regular basis expertise.”
Extra lately, tracks like “Alleluiah” and “Haven of Peace” from “Sanctum Sanctuorum,” a 2001 launch, have been drawing consideration from a brand new era of followers, mentioned Jon Birgé, proprietor of Hearts of Area Information, Ms. Demby’s label for the previous 20 years.
Ms. Demby considered sound, when harnessed correctly, as having transformative and even therapeutic energy.
“Music is a realm of consciousness the listener enters by touring on a beam of sound,” she advised Malibu Surfside Information in 2010. “It opens the guts.”
Eleni Rose-Collard, her former assistant, noticed the results of Ms. Demby’s music on audiences, together with those that got here to her studio for small-scale home live shows.
“Her residence live shows have been magical, immersive, therapeutic, profound,” Ms. Rose-Collard mentioned by e mail. Ms. Rose-Collard herself skilled these results.
“One among my deepest recollections was being there together with her whereas she was composing ‘Novus Magnificat,’” she mentioned. “I used to be throughout the room, I fell to my knees, crawled to her, put my head in her lap and sobbed.”
Ms. Demby’s studio was filled with synthesizers, laptop screens and numerous devices, together with one she named the Area Bass, which she created within the Sixties when she was an artist in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood making sculptures.
“I introduced this 10-foot-long sheet of mirror-finished metal to the studio and hung it as much as begin torching it,” she recalled within the 2010 interview — and he or she was transfixed by the sounds that emanated from the metallic when it wobbled. She added some brass and metal rods and different refinements, and the Area Bass was born.
There was additionally the Whale Sail, one other sheet-metal creation, in addition to a hammered dulcimer that she and the famous instrument maker Sam Rizzetta designed particularly to achieve notes decrease than a standard hammered dulcimer can produce.
“It ended up being virtually 5 ft lengthy,” Ms. Demby wrote on her web site, “as a result of that low C string demanded a sure size with a purpose to obtain the word. The resonance is such that the sound of 1 string being struck hangs within the air for practically 15 seconds.”
The author Dave Eggers, a nephew, recalled how his aunt’s albums and artworks had brightened his youth in Chicago.
“Every time Connie would create a brand new album, she’d ship it to us,” he mentioned by e mail, “and the distinction between our many-shades-of-brown home and her information and posters, all with ethereal themes and rainbow colours, was dramatic.”
Later he would go to the studio the place she made her music.
“In her place in Sierra Madre, in a light-filled entrance room, the Area Bass made sounds of thunder and crashing oceans,” Mr. Eggers wrote. “Most of her compositions have been otherworldly — as if she have been composing the soundtrack to the subsequent world.”
Constance Mary Eggers was born on Might 9, 1939, in Oakland, Calif. Her father, John, was an promoting government, and her mom, Mary Elizabeth (Kingwell) Eggers, was a homemaker.
She grew up in Greenwich, Conn. When she was 8, her mom acquired a grand piano, which sparked Connie’s curiosity in music.
“I watched her two arms interacting,” she mentioned. “Inside days I used to be taking piano classes.”
Ms. Demby married David Demby in 1961 (the wedding would finish in divorce), and he or she spent a lot of that decade in New York, the place she fell in with musicians like Robert Rutman, who would develop into effectively referred to as a multimedia artist. In 1966 Ms. Demby relocated to Maine, and shortly Mr. Rutman did, too. Round 1970 she joined him within the Central Maine Energy Music Firm, a efficiency group that made a lot of its music with home made devices.
“It has given live shows in numerous auditoriums,” a neighborhood newspaper wrote of the group, “typically taking part in to giant, enthusiastic audiences, and typically taking part in to a baffled and resistant handful.”
Ms. Demby lived in Spain for a time earlier than settling in California. She took her music everywhere in the world. Mr. Eggers recalled her telling tales of performing at Stonehenge in England and at the foot of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. She typically carried out at planetariums and different astronomy services, together with the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
Her music was used or sampled in plenty of movies. Her different albums embrace “Set Free” (1989), “Aeterna” (1994) and “Spirit Trance” (2004).
“What Demby likes to do,” Ms. Demby advised The Los Angeles Instances in 2000, “is to play power, and play the viewers as one among her devices.”
Mr. Eggers mentioned he had spoken continuously to his aunt, most lately a couple of weeks in the past, when her well being was failing.
“Her reminiscence was not good, and he or she couldn’t bear in mind many pals or any current occasions,” he mentioned. “However she knew her music. She knew in every single place she’d performed, and the identify of each composition.”
“Out of nowhere she started speaking about heaven,” he added. “‘I believe I’ll be welcomed there,’ she mentioned. ‘I believe they’d just like the music I made, they usually’ll open the gates for me.’”
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