Michael Pelz-Sherman, Ph.D.


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Keyboardist/Composer Michael Pelz-Sherman, PhD has been performing professionally on piano, organ, synthesizers and percussion since the age of 16. Since winning first place at the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Jazz Quartet competition in 1980, he has continued to refine his voice, absorbing influences from a wide range of styles and cultures. A graduate of Indiana University and UC San Diego music programs, Michael studied composition with Earl Browne, Donald Erb, Harvey Sollberger, Rand Steiger, Roger Reynolds, and Brian Ferneyhough. While a student at IU, he was awarded 2nd prize in the SCI composition competition for his piece "Earth, Wind, and Wire" for clarinet, percussion, and 2 harps. He played keyboards and wrote music for the Minneapolis Jazz fusion group "Little Green Men", whose album "Jazz From Mars" won "Best Jazz Recording" at the 1989 Minnesota Music Awards. He also toured the Soviet Union that same year as part of the group "Rockhouse", backing up vocalist Prudence Johnson.

An accomplished software engineer and computer-musician, Michael served as a Musical Assistant at IRCAM in Paris, France in 1992, where he created an original real-time computer-assisted performance system and designed sounds for Netherlands composer Klass Torstensson's Urban Songs. His compositions have been commissioned and performed at the Crested Butte Music Festival, and he is a member of the International Society of Improvised Music.

Pelz-Sherman's Ph.D. dissertation, "A Framework for the Analysis of Performer Interactions in Improvised Music", created under the guidance of trombonist/impoviser/author George E. Lewis, demonstrates his deep love for and understanding of the history, development, and structure of creative improvised music that has risen out of American Jazz.

In Sept. 2012, he released an album of original music with his progressive jazz group, The MPS Project, which is available on all major streaming platforms.

Michael currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina (USA) where he teaches piano and performs regularly with his jazz trio MPS Trio, the North Carolina Jazz Ensemble, acoustic soul duo The Lounge Doctors, the Will McBride Group, Yacht Rock Tribute band Heavy Weather, and many other groups as a freelance keyboardist. He also serves as a producer and artist-in-residence at Chatham Street Records, an independent record label based in Cary, North Carolina.

For more information:

phone: 919-279-0825
email: mpelzsherman@gmail.com

All of the material on this site is free to download; however, my MA and PhD papers are Copyrighted.

M.A. Thesis: On the Formalization of Expression in Music Performed by Computers

Ph.D. Disseration: A Framework for the Analysis of Performer Interactions in Western Improvised Contemporary Art Music.

(Note to Mac users: this PDF file may not be compatible with your version of Preview.app. If not, please try Adobe Reader, which you can download here.)

Improvisation Analysis Videos

Upcoming Performances

A few of my more recent projects:

Film Scores

Computer Music

While working on my MA at UCSD I served as a musical assistant at IRCAM, where I created a real-time performance system and did digital sound design for composer Klas Torstensson for his piece Urban Songs.

Older Pieces:

Scores for the following original chamber music works are available upon request.

Concert Music
Title Musicians Date/Place Notes Play/Download
Shades of Blue Randy Orsac, Violin. Karl Witt, Piano Summer 1987, Minneapolis, Minnesota Duet for violin and piano. Radio broadcast recording from MPR's "Live at Landmark" series. Download
For Thomas MPS, Piano Feb. 1982, Bloomington, Indiana Piano solo piece composed for my father's birthday. I was listening to a lot of Bartok and Aaron Copeland at the time. Download
Day MPS, Piano; David Emerson, French Horn Dec. 1986, Bloomington, Indiana Piece for french horn and piano incorporating elements of serialism and jazz. Download
Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble Jan. 1984, Bloomington, Indiana An a cappella setting for small vocal ensemble of e.e. cummings' wonderful poem of the same name. Download
Boxes, Bubbles, and Butterflies Nathan Howard, Piano 1982, Bloomington, Indiana Solo piano piece dedicated to mime/contact improv artist Nell Weatherwax. Download
Field of Melting Snow Mike Eads, Tenor Sax; Carol Fry, Cello 1982, Bloomington, Indiana A somber and reflective piece. Download
Love in the Moonlight MPS, Piano; IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble 1985, Bloomington, Indiana A setting of an ancient Chinese Poem I translated myself, composed after returning from a year of teaching English and music in Hangzhou, China. 3 sopranos, 3 flutes, strings (vln, vla, cello, doublebass), piano, hammer dulcimer, and electronic tape. Roll over these links to see some excerpts from the score. Download
Earth, Wind and Wire MPS, conductor; IU Contemporary Music Ensemble. Patrick O'Keefe, clarinet 1986, Bloomington, Indiana Winner of ASUC/SESAC Composition Contest Download

Title Musicians Date/Place Notes Play/Download
Old Man (Neil Young) MPS, piano; Steve Boletchek, Bass; Bob Jackson, Drums April 2011, Durham NC Piano trio cover of one of my favorite Neil Young songs. Download
Now Is The Time MPS, piano; Steve Boletchek, Bass; Jefferey Crouse, Drums Jan 2009, Cary NC A piece inspired by the inaguration of President Barack Obama. Download
Joy Spring As Is: MPS - Piano, Tracy Rose - Drums, Andre LaVelle - Bass January 2003. Terra Linda, CA Trad Jazz instrumental rendition of the classic Clifford Brown standard Download
Autumn Leaves As Is: MPS - Piano, Lynne Clyde - Vocals, Mike Greenfield - Bass, Peake Saunders - Drums October 2005. Sebastopol, CA Original arrangement by MPS. Recorded at Mesa Recording. Download
The Big Stomp Little Green Men: MPS, keyboards, Steve Sklar, electric guitar, Johnna Morrow, flute, Jason Everett, bass & bari sax, Dodd Johnson, drums July 1989, Minneapolis MN Original composition by MPS. Steve Sklar, engineer Download

Electronic/Computer Music
Title Musicians Date/Place Notes Play/Download
A Study In Light MPS, synthesizers and "M" software Fall 1990, UC San Diego Improvised live performance using Joel Chadabe's M software. Download
Jane and SIVA Jane Rigler, flute, with SIVA interactive computer music system 1992, San Diego, CA SIVA = Synthetic Interactive Virtual Automoton. Original software written in Max/MSP controlling Yamaha TX7 synth module. Careful with those Sys/Ex commands! Download
Intricate Ballistics Computer-generated using CMUSIC by F. Richard Moore and custom DSP software 1992, San Diego, CA A computer music piece I created back at UCSD in the early '90's. The sound sources are from a Smithsonian Folkways recording of a Balinese Ketchak Dance. Techniques include "scrubbing", phase-vocoder, convolution, and distortion. This may have been the last piece ever composed using the original CARL VAX PDP11/70 system, which was decommissioned shortly after the piece was completed.
Blue Winter MPS, Piano, E. Scott Warren, bass. Charles Barchuk, drums July 2012. Chapel Hill, NC From my "Goes Without Saying" CD.

Free Improvisation
Title Musicians Date/Place Notes Play/Download
100% Natural Space Jam Little Green Men: MPS, keyboards, Steve Sklar, electric guitar, Johnna Morrow, flutes and percussion, Solomon, congas, Bobby Jaycox, drums, John Simon, bass 1987, Minneapolis MN Completely improvised studio recording, from the album "Jazz from Mars", which won the Minnesota Music Award for "Best Jazz Recording" in 1987. Download
MPS & MC MPS, Piano and Mark Culbertson, Bass July 2, 2006. Terra Linda, CA Pensive atonal improvised duet, recorded just before departing the Bay Area for North Carolina. Download
Oracle Bones MPS, Piano, Sean Geist, bass. Charles Barchuk, drums July 2012. Chapel Hill, NC Completely improvised track from my "Goes Without Saying" CD.

Rock / Electronica
Title Musicians Date/Place Notes Play/Download
MemoryMiner background music Michael Pelz-Sherman, synths. Steve Sklar, throat singing. Cary, NC 2010 Background music for a software application promotional video. Download
Raindance Michael Sherman, hammer dulcimer, synthesizer, percussion. Russ Levitt, bass. Derek Vaughan, engineer. Bloomington, Indiana, 1986 A new-agey piece featuring the hammer dulcimer I brought back from mainland China during my time studying and teaching English there. Download
The Circus Michael Sherman, piano & synthesizers; Charlie Erickson (now known as Chuck Love, Bass and audio engineering; Brian Lind, guitar; Dodd Johnson, drums & percussion Minneapolis, Minnesota 1981 An instrumental progressive jazz/rock fusion fantasy a la Return to Forever/Gentle Giant. Sorry about the poor audio quality on this one... my old tapes are pretty damn noisy. Download
Minimum Wage The "Rough Edges": Ted Rider, lead vocal, Tom Skamina, Drums, Mark McCormick, Guitar, Michael Sherman, keyboards/backing vocals, "Buzz" Cottingham, bass Bloomington Indiana, 1983 DEVO-influenced New Wave Download