Terry Dame

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

About Terry Dame

Terry Dame is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder, circuit bender 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 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, got involved with the WOW Cafe Theater, produced four multi-media concerts and took up the saxophone. She has been performing and composing for film, video, theater, dance and installations 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 that is still active today. 

Currently, Dame performs in solo or duo configurations with her original interactive sensor-driven instruments. She hosts and curates a monthly music series at held at BarbesBrooklyn called "Terry Dame's Weird Wednesdays"  dedicated to instrument inventors and players of objects and other musical oddities.  Dame also leads the seven-piece modal jazz group Monkey on a Rail. She collaborates with controllerist/dj Julie Covello and bassist/percussionist Dawn Drake in the EDM group Daughter Of Darrr and is a member of international dance music band Paprika.  As a side person Ms. Dame performs on multiple instruments in a variety of groups including Kenny Wollesen's Himalayas and Wollesonic Laboratories and Jessica Lurie's Plate Tiptonics. She was composer-in-residence and saxophonist with Jennifer Miller's NYC based Circus Amok from 1994-2004.

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. 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 with recycled objects and interactive technologies to all ages. Dame holds a MFA in Performance and Composition from the California Institute of the Arts.