Terry Dame

~Composer~Sound Artist~Instrument Inventor~Multi-Instrumentalist~Educator~

About Terry Dame

Terry Dame is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder, maker and educator. She began playing trumpet and piano at age 8 and continued playing into high school. Upon entering college she put music aside to pursue engineering and environmental studies, graduating with a BS in Environmental Planning from the University of Massachusetts. After graduating however she couldn’t resist her creative impulses, bought a synthesizer and started composing music and designing sound for theater. In 1985 Ms. Dame moved to New York City and got involved with the WOW Cafe Theater. Over the next several years she produced four multi-media concerts and took up the saxophone. She has been performing and composing nationally and internationally ever since.

Instrument building came about in graduate school while studying composition with the late Art Jarvinen at Cal Arts where she also studied with Wadada Leo Smith, Vinny Golia, Rajeev Taranath and Balinese Gamelan master Nyoman Wenten. These influences continue to shape her creative work today.  In 1998 she returned to NYC to form the invented instrument ensemble Electric Junkyard Gamelan composing, designing and building the instruments for the four piece ensemble. The group toured and performed regularly for 12 years at prestigious venues such as MoMa, the Detroit Institute of Art and Kennedy Center. 

Dame's current work involves creating and performing with interactive sensor-driven musical instruments, sculptures and installations. She curated the monthly music series "Terry Dame's Weird Wednesdays" dedicated to instrument inventors and players of objects and other musical oddities from 2013-2017 and still performs as The Weird Wednesdays with fellow instrument inventors Ken Butler, Ed Potokar and Daniel Jodocy.

Dame also has an active career composing for film and dance. Most recently she collaborated with choreographer Karole Armitage composing for a new piece that premiered in NYC October 2017.

Recent  film scores include the ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts documentary "The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere" which premiered at Sundance Festival 2016 and won Best Documentary Short at the 2016 Toronto's HotDocs Festival and "Hunting in Wartime" (2016) by Samantha Farinella. Other notable him collaborations include Maria Maggenti (The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, Puccini for Beginners), Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl), Erin Greenwell (My Best Day), experimental film maker Diane Bonder (Closer to Heaven), and documentarists Harriet Hirshorn and Mary Patireno (Disappearance of Tisouer, Sodom by the Sea). She is an alumni of the prestigious Sundance Institute Composer Lab (2006).

Ms. Dame has received grants and commissioning funds from HarvestWorks Digital Media Art Center, Fractured Atlas, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, Meet the Composer Fund and the Franklin Furnace Archive.  She was an artist in residence at HERE Art Center in New York City during 2003 & 2004.  She is currently on faculty in the  MFA Computer Art and BFA Film Departments at the School of Visual Arts and the Creative Media Department at Marymount Manhattan College in NYC.  She tours nationally performing and teaching workshops on instrument building  and interactive technologies to all ages. Dame holds a MFA in Performance and Composition from the California Institute of the Arts.