David Grubbs

Headshot of David Grubbs
  • Distinguished Professor, Music

Research Interests

  • Sound art and experimental music, pop music, poetry, and sound recording.


  • Ph.D., University of Chicago
  • M.A., University of Chicago
  • B.A., Georgetown University


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Brooklyn College

David Grubbs is Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. At Brooklyn College he also teaches in the MFA programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Creative Writing. He is the author of Good night the pleasure was ours, The Voice in the Headphones, Now that the audience is assembled, and Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (all published by Duke University Press) as well as the collaborative artists’ books Simultaneous Soloists (with Anthony McCall, Pioneer Works Press) and Projectile (with Reto Geiser and John Sparagana, Drag City).

Grubbs has released fourteen solo albums and appeared on more than 200 commercially-released recordings. In 2000, his The Spectrum Between (Drag City) was named “Album of the Year” in the London Sunday Times

He is known for his cross-disciplinary collaborations with poet Susan Howe and visual artists Angela Bulloch and Anthony McCall, among others. His collaborations with Susan Howe appear on five album releases and have been presented in performance at MoMA, the Southbank Centre (London), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Yale University’s Beinecke Library. Grubbs’s collaborations with Anthony McCall have been exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin) and the Sean Kelly Gallery (New York), and he created the sound design for ECLIPSE, the performance work by McCall and Jonah Bokaer that inaugurated the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Fisher building in September 2012. Works by Angela Bulloch featuring soundtracks by Grubbs have been exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (in the exhibition theanyspacewhatever), the Centre Pompidou (in elles@centrepompidou), and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich. Grubbs and Bulloch premiered a new performance work, The Wired Salutation, at the Centre Pompidou in 2013. Grubbs’s music appears in two installations by Doug Aitken, and his sound installation “Between a Raven and a Writing Desk” was included in the 1999 group exhibition Elysian Fields at the Centre Pompidou. His collaborative installation One and One Less (with Eli Keszler) was exhibited in 2014 at the MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Grubbs is one of five musicians profiled in Augusto Contento’s 2012 documentary film Parallax Sounds. He collaborated with Matmos on music for Thierry Jousse’s feature film Les Invisibles, and has contributed music to Augusto Contento’s Parallax Sounds, Strade Trasparenti, and Onibus; Gustav Deutsch’s FILM IST. a girl & a gun; Braden King and Laura Moya’s Dutch Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks its Back; and John Boskovich’s North, as well as to the Red Krayola’s soundtrack to Norman and Bruce Yonemoto’s Japan in Paris in LA. Music by Gastr del Sol appears in the P.B.S. television series The United States of Poetry, Hal Hartley’s film The Book of Life, and Doug Aitken’s film The Diamond Sea. Grubbs composed the musical score for Karl Bruckmaier’s radio adaptation of Peter Weiss’s Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (Hessischer Rundfunk’s “Hörbuch des Jahres 2007”) and contributed music to Bruckmaier’s adaptation of Alexander Kluge’s Chronik der Gefühle (Deutscher Hörbuchpreis 2010, “Best Fiction”). He appears in the Arte television documentary Lost in Music: Chicago Connections and the NHK (Japan) television documentary The Red Krayola, as well as in documentary films including Breadcrumb Trail (dir. Lance Bangs, 2014), Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present (dir. Tyler Hubby, 2016), and Just for the Record: Conversations with and about “Blue” Gene Tyranny (dir. David Bernabo, 2020).

Grubbs was a founding member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with the Red Krayola, Will Oldham, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, Royal Trux, Loren Connors, and many others. Live performances include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Fondation Cartier (Paris), MACBA (Barcelona), Museu do Chiado (Lisbon), CAAC (Seville), P3 Art and Environment (Tokyo), Vienna Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Steirischer Herbst (Graz), Festival Musique Actuelle (Victoriaville), Musique Action Festival (Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy), STRP Festival (Eindhoven), SONAR (Barcelona), Playback Play Festival (Warsaw), Music Merge Festival (Tokyo), and What Is Music (Melbourne/Sydney). Grubbs directs the Blue Chopsticks label, which has released new and archival recordings by Luc Ferrari, Derek Bailey and Noël Akchoté, and many others.

His criticism has appeared in Chicago Review, Texte zur Kunst, Frieze, Afterall, Modern Painters, The Wire, Bookforum, Tin House, Black Clock, and Conjunctions. Grubbs is a grant recipient in Music/Sound from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a contributing editor in music for BOMB Magazine, and chair of the board of directors of the non-profit curatorial platform and publisher Blank Forms.


Solo recordings

  • October 19, 2017 DL (Fire Over Heaven, 2020)
  • Creep Mission CD/LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2017)
  • Prismrose CD/LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2016)
  • The Plain Where the Palace Stood CD/LP (Drag City, 2013)
  • Hybrid Song Box.4 CD (Blue Chopsticks, 2009)
  • An Optimist Notes the Dusk CD/LP (Drag City/P-Vine, 2008)
  • Two Soundtracks for Angela Bulloch CD (Semishigure, 2005)
  • A Guess at the Riddle CD/LP (Drag City/FatCat/P-Vine, 2004)
  • Rickets & Scurvy CD/LP (Drag City/FatCat/P-Vine, 2002)
  • Act Five, Scene One CD (Blue Chopsticks/P-Vine, 2002)
  • The Spectrum Between CD/LP (Drag City/P-Vine, 2000)
  • The Thicket CD/LP (Drag City, 1998)
  • Banana Cabbage, Potato Lettuce, Onion Orange CD (Table of the Elements, 1997)


  • na margem sul (with Manuel Mota) CD (Room40, 2022)
  • Translation from Unspecified (with Jan St. Werner) LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2022)
  • A Tap on the Shoulder (with Ryley Walker) CD/LP (Husky Pants, 2021)
  • Concordance (with Susan Howe) LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2021)
  • The Underflow, Instant Opaque Evening 2xLP (Blue Chopsticks, 2021)
  • Comet Meta (with Taku Unami) LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2020)
  • Failed Celestial Creatures (with Taku Unami) LP (Empty Editions, 2018)
  • One and One Less (with Eli Keszler) LP (UDPR, 2017)
  • WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER (with Susan Howe) CD/LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2015)
  • Belfi / Grubbs / Pilia, Dust & Mirrors CD/LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2014)
  • Frolic Architecture (with Susan Howe) CD (Blue Chopsticks, 2011)
  • Belfi / Grubbs / Pilia, Onrushing Cloud LP (Blue Chopsticks, 2010)
  • Souls of the Labadie Tract (with Susan Howe) CD (Blue Chopsticks, 2007)
  • Thiefth (with Susan Howe) CD (Blue Chopsticks, 2005)
  • The Harmless Dust (with Nikos Veliotis) (Headz, 2005)
  • Arborvitae (with Loren Connors) CD (Häpna, 2003)
  • Pauline Oliveros, Primordial/Lift CD (Table of the Elements, 2000)
  • Stephen Prina, Push Comes to Love CD/LP (Drag City, 1998)
  • Gastr del Sol, Camoufleur CD/LP (Drag City/Domino/P-Vine, 1998)
  • Gastr del Sol, Upgrade & Afterlife CD/2xLP (Drag City/Normal, 1996)
  • The Red Krayola, Hazel CD/LP (Drag City, 1996)
  • Palace Music, Arise, Therefore CD/LP (Drag City, 1996)
  • Tony Conrad, Slapping Pythagoras CD (Table of the Elements, 1995)
Headshot of David Grubbs


Affiliated Campus(es)

  • Brooklyn College