Intervention Through Music
Dr. Thomas Stanley believes he is changing the world two ears at a time. While the ability of music to serve as an emotional reservoir of past experience is well-documented, Stanley seeks in sonic expression a forward-facing teleology, a capacity to alter destiny and open up the future of humanity to unconsidered possibilities. His unique synthesis draws upon the tradition of "serious" philosophy (Bergson, Deleuze, Massumi, Lewis) but is also heavily indebted to more accessible thinkers (Sun Ra, Terrence McKenna, Fools Crow, Jesus Christ). Billing his performance-workshops as "MacroTemporal Interventions", Stanley's presentations are rich with broad musical references, sardonic humor, and a genuine love for human beings and their evolving condition. "Actually, I'm the penultimate optimist," explains the Ohio-born artist, scholar, and activist. "I'm just convinced that our best stuff begins once this world has run its course, and we're almost there."
Writing: Thomas Stanley is currently completing the manuscript for a new book on Sun Ra, featuring the photos of Lee Santa and scheduled for publication in Autumn, 2013. Stanley is co-author of George
Clinton and P-Funk: An Oral History. Dr. Stanley
writes on popular musical culture with an emphasis on how that culture
maps and precognizes our social future. His work has appeared in The
Washington Post, The Washington City Paper, Du, Point
of Departure, Signal to Noise Magazine, The Yearbook
of Traditional Music, and Live Movies, a textbook on new
media published in 2006. As performing poet and librettist, Stanley
has read with Susie Ibarra, William Hooker, Joseph Bowie, and his
own ensembles. His creative writing has appeared in Beyond
the Frontier (ed., E.
Ethelbert Miller) and Erotique
Noire (ed., M. DeCosta-Willis).
In 2009 Stanley was awarded a doctorate of ethnomusicology from the
University of Maryland. His dissertation explored the social and musical
implications of the unique compositional system developed by Lawrence
D. "Butch" Morris. His masters research focused
on the contemporary music of the Garinagu of Belize, and provided
a unique opportunity to work closely with the late Andy
Palacio. In April of 2003 Stanley was awarded a curriculum
development grant by the David
C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora.
The grant funded the development and launch of Radical Black Music
and Constructions of Cosmic Order, a seminar covering the philosophical
dimension of AfroFuturism's most prominent musical renegades. This
course was initially taught at the University of Maryland and later
adapted for students at George Mason University.
In 2003 Stanley partnered with WPFW-FM radio personality Bobby Hill
at George Mason
University to teach Hip Hop Culture employing
a comprehensive ethnographic approach. In 2006 he was asked to join
the faculty of Mason's School of Art (at the time, the department
of Art and Visual Technology). At Mason, Dr. Stanley teaches courses
on Sound Art, Writing, Crtical Theory, and Consciousness.
There he pioneered the School of Art's participation in Noise
Awareness Day, an international initiative celebrating
hearing and its protection. He has distinguished himself by an interdisciplinary
approach that unites the studies of music, culture and consciousness,
allowing each pursuit to effectively illuminate the others.
Music/Art: Stanley performs electro-acoustic music solo as Bushmeat and with Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind featuring Bobby Hill (turntables) and Luke Stewart (bass/sampler). With improvised electronic sound art, Dr. Stanley attempts to emancipate the listener from archaic and destructive tendencies and beliefs (e.g., money, patriotism, organized religion, and war)."Glass Harmonica versus the Panopticon seems a near perfect metaphor for where I find myself these days," asserts Stanley. "The music of the GH was purported to render its listeners insane and the Federated Panopticon is, of course, Babylon construed as a closed circuit penal hell of normative conformity and patrio-consumptive obedience. I wish, I really wish I could craft a bed of sounds that would drive my listeners out of their minds (and into their souls). This is what I work for."
Stanley's compelling sound assemblages are offered as something of a pry bar to create a measure of space between the
layer of socially-constructed world that presses down upon us and
the fragile being underneath. He describes his objectives as liberating
spiritual territory and freeing up psychological real estate. His
ensembles have performed at the Kennedy
Center (2009) and New York's highly acclaimed Vision
Festival (2001 and 2002). Stanley has also been commissioned
for sound-based installations including "Duration" (October,
2006/Gallery 1-2-3) which interrogated the notion of war without end
and "Three Gates in the East" (July, 2011/Driskell Center,
UMD) which accompanied a multi-artist gallery exhibit interpreting
the fullness of African American traditions of worship.
Advocacy: As a founding member of Transparent Productions -- a non-profit volunteer collective -- Stanley has helped to present close to 200 concerts featuring the world's finest jazz improvisers and innovators since 1997. He is featured in the film Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth. He was interviewed about the mysterious fate of the P-Funk Mothership -- perhaps the most famous stage prop in all of pop music -- for an article written by Chris Richards for the Washington Post. That article was republished in the Best Music Writing of 2011 edited by Alex Ross.