July 2013


for newer news, visit Dave's Blog


February 2011

The ultimate Thai Elephant Orchestra record finally released...

  1. A new article in the Houston Press says that Water Music by the Thai Elephant Orchestra should win a Grammy Award!


August 2010

The ultimate Thai Elephant Orchestra record

  1. We will shortly release Water Music, the final planned CD by the Thai Elephant Orchestra. (NOTE: OK, we actually waited until February, 2011!) Now14elephants perform, and this is the purist elephant only CD we always promised ourselves. The only human music is from the master mahour Boonyang, who chants a traditional prayer for the elephant spirits from northern Thailand as the orchestra plays with him.


November 2009

Mulatta Pop

  1. We moved the ordering of the more international and dance-oriented CDs to a different website, mulattapop.com, and you can order them there, including Fula Flute, Bliki Circus, Mandeng Eletrik, M'Lumbo, and Miliki Music.

March 2009

Music for Brainwaves

  1. Dave Soldier and Brad Garton have been making a new kind of experimental music using brainwaves and EEGs with percussionists: check out a TV show on the project from WHYY in Philadelphia. More links are here. Eventually a Mulatta CD and DVD project.

January 2008

Dave Soldier's "Chamber Music" among Classical's Best and Brightest

Congratulations to Dave Soldier for making the NY Times' list of 2007's most notable classical music.
  1. "Resolutely uninterested in stylistic limits, Dave Soldier makes conventional eclecticism seem academically staid. In this compilation of chamber works composed from 1986 to 2006, he draws on (and juxtaposes) everything from polkas to soaring rock guitar solos, from Grappelli-style jazz to neo-Baroquery, with 19th-century salon music and Spike Jones-inspired zaniness along the way."

Check out Chamber Music

New release from Miliki Music

Miliki Music harkens to the mood and style of King Sunny Ade’s 1980 international debut ‘Juju Music’ but without a major label production budget. It differentiates itself in a broader creative spectrum from its seven distinctive featured artists and a modernist take on tradition. Its two octogenarians, veterans of the 60s, highlife, Fatai Rolling Dollars and Kokoro, and the guitarist scion of the founding father of Yoruba Juju guitar music, Biodun Ayinde Bakare, lend this collection a cache similar to the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon.

Though many of the songs here reference the 60s Juju-Highlife tradition, other songs that hint of Afrobeat (courtesy of ex-Fela Kuti’s keyboardist Duro Ikujenyo), Jazz and Big Band Highlife round up this amazing collection of modern Nigerian music.

Check out Miliki Music's "Society Sounds of 60's Lagos (re-grooved)"

Thursday, April 13, 2007

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

As reported everywhere, Kurt passed away yesterday a week after a fall. Richard Auldon Clark, the conductor of the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra who conducted our CDs with Kurt, saw him a couple of weeks before and said that he had been well right up to the fall. We are grateful for our time with Kurt, for his participation as a writer, actor and narrator, for his encouragement on these collaborations, and his amazing and sardonic sense of humor (you should have heard him on professional critics). Condolences to Jill Krementz and his family, Richard and his other friends, and the millions who were affected by his work.

Our radio opera, A Soldier's Story, which features Kurt as a lead actor, will premiere on Counterstream Radio on June 3 and 7.

March, 2007

Mayan Mountain Music

The Seeds of Knowledge School in San Mateo, Guatemala, a 10 hour drive from Guatemala City in the highlands, is the first high school in that part of the country, and was founded a year-and-a-half ago by Beth Neville Evans and associates.

Beth heard DaHipHop Raskalz on the radio, and invited us to coach the Mayan children to compose, particuarly with the traditional giant marimbas. Dave Soldier, Alan Kushan, and Rory Young recorded and coached the kids who experimented with traditional music and electronics (they like reggaeton), as well as older men in the area, including some songs in the local Mayan language, Chuj. EEG Records will be proud to produce a new CD of the kid's music for the school, "Yol K'u: Inside the sun: Mayan Mountain Music from the Seeds of Knowledge Schoolhouse".

Update: CD is now out including a DVD of a movie based on Romeo and Juliet, also made by the kids.

November 18 2006

Da Hiphop Raskalz play Great Performers at Lincoln Center!

This is not a hoax! Author Evan Eisenberg (read his book on how recording changed music, The Recording Angel) presented a panel session for a series devoted to pianist Glenn Gould. Evan felt that Da Hiphop Raskalz, as little kids who don't "know how to play" instruments but nevertheless write and play their own music, are the ultimate example of one Glenn's predictions, that the barrier between composer/performer and listeners would ulimately disappear. The kids formed a new band for Lincoln Center, The Famous Celebrities, and made a new tune for the concert, We're Famous (Just like Mary J. Blige). Sienna Thomas of the Muffletoes (I Want Candy) and The Famous Celebrities answered the crowd's questions on how they compose. They were a hit: also on the panel were our ol pal Jaron Lanier as well as Paul Miller (DJ Spooky).

July 2006

A third CD recorded by the Thai Elephant Orchestra

Dave Soldier and Richard Lair recorded the TEO over the space of a week: up to 12 ellies at at time! This recording will be all elephants save for one recording of Boonyang, who is Luk Kob's mahout and also a priest, singing a traditional Northern Thai prayer for the elephant's spirits, live with the orchestra. It will take Dave a while to mix this, but the ellies are playing better than ever - they keep getting better.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Elephants in Jacksonville listen to Thai cousins

Here's a letter from Alycin Hayes, a friend of the Thai Elephant Orchestra who lives in Gainesville, Florida.

  1. Elephant Notes
    Jacksonville Zoo, 11:30 AM Tuesday, February 8, 2006

    I was met by Brett Smith, elephant manager, Jami Burke and Sheryl Cummins both elephant keepers. Their 4 African elephants were in their outdoor enclosure together. This was the first day that Ali the 16 year old bull elephant had been with the 3 females Missy, Kimba and Sheena in two weeks. Before that it was over 2 years.

    I played the first few songs from The Elephant Orchestra CD for the elephants from the top of a raised area at the north edge of their enclosure called the cave. The 3 females appeared to listen in a relaxed manner and then slowly moved off during the third song to their hay. Ali came over before we started the CD and sniffed me with his trunk. He didn't seem interested in listening to elephant songs for more than a few minutes. He moved over to the hay and began to eat.

    When cut 13, Elephant Sounds, was played the 3 females immediately looked up and moved into a herd stance facing the CD player with Missy the matriarch in the middle slightly forward of Kimba and Sheena all ears up facing forward. Sheena then moved very close to the CD played the first time she had expressed such interest and lifted her trunk sniffing. She was the most interested of all four.

    We played the vocalizations again and the female elephants moved forward, moving into a group with their backsides to each other all facing out. Ali the bull then moved away from his hay and stood in front of the 3 females, that is between where I stood with the CD player and the female elephants. As the next songs on the CD were played the elephants seemed to lose interest and moved over to where their hay was spread on the ground, not before Kimba picked up some feces and threw it gently, something the keepers had never seen any of them do before. Ali and Missy then moved away together while Kimba and Sheena moved to the other side of the pen. Ali and Missy affectionately wrapped their trunks around each other in what appeared to be an embrace.

    The elephants then returned to their hay as the CD ended. It was agreed that I would return and perform some African drumming for the elephants as they all originally came from Africa and might recognize drumming from home. Ali's keeper said that the only music that calmed him down when he was in musth was Frank Sinatra. Interestingly she had tried a variety of music and that was the only music that helped him.

Alycin Hayes Adventurous Percussion Music

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gordon Shaw RIP

Sadly, Gordon Shaw who was working with me (Dave) on teaching pygmy chimpanzee music, passed away after a short illness in April. The chimps showed a lot of promise, and were wonderful to spend time with, and I'm very sad that we won't be able to continue on this direction. Gordon was the promulgator of "the Mozart effect", which uses music to help children with abstract thinking. He initiated very successful efforts to teach young kids to play the keyboard and hear music.

Please visit his MIND Institute.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Elephant Orchestra plays for Her Royal Majesty of Thailand

The Thai Elephant Orchestra, conducted by Richard Lair, had a command performance for HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand on February 10, 2005. The concert was a collaboration with the 60-strong concert band of Galayani School, Lampang, conducted by Professor Rashen Suwwanawongse. The warmly received performance started with the TEO on its own; subsequently, the children's orchestra came in, selected elephants jammed along with it to then segue into 'elephants only', then the school re-entered with a new piece. Most of the music was Thai but there were two western songs, "I Did It My Way" (a favorite of Her Majesty) and "Oh Danny Boy."