Michael Morse

Classes: CUST 2045Y, CUST3545H (FA)


Michael Morse is a bassist, composer, arranger, bandleader, scholar, teacher, and writer Michael Morse grew up in New Jersey. He studied bass with Gary Peacock and Warren Grim. In high school, he began composing, studying harmony and theory by correspondence with the Berklee School.

A year in Germany led to extensive orchestral experience, and further bass study with Rudolf Watzel. Michael began conducting the school choir and orchestra, and had some lessons with Friedrich Tilegant of the Southwest German Chamber Orchestra. Upon returning to university at McGill in Montreal, he concentrated on comparative literature and philosophy. After graduation he performed and taught in Montreal for ten years, playing every type of music from Brahms and Dvorak to Haitian folk music, disco, TV commercials, and, always, jazz in its many incarnations. Highlights in these years included performances with Lee Konitz, Bob Mover, Kenny Alexander, Terry King, Jane Fair, Steve Hall, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jay McShann, Georges Rodrigues, and Peter Leitch.

In 1980 Michael moved to Toronto, continued an active musical career, and began graduate study, first in ethnomusicology, and eventually sociology and social theory. His studies culminated in an M.F.A. (“An Analytic Study of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight”), M.A. (“Heidegger and Poetic Rhythm”), and PhD (The Tune in Jazz as a Social Process – Prolegomena to a Sociology of Music).

Michael has taught at York and for more than a decade in the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University, developing original conceptions for music history and sociology courses, as well as introductory cultural theory and a history of avant garde movements. He has also taught humanities at Humber College, George Brown College, Centennial College and musicianship courses at CAMMAC summer music camp.

He has appeared with countless groups in Quebec and Ontario, most recently with Biff Hannon, Morse Code, and Credo 4. He has recorded with Trio Muo, Brenda Scott, Sonora, The Freeworks Band, and composed and performed music for the acclaimed CBC Stratford Festival Series production Guthrie on Guthrie, featuring Colin Fox.


Selected Recordings:

Strophe by Sonora, with Glen Hall, Kye Marshall, and Rebecca Vander Post  rec. summer 2005 with the assistance of the Canada Council & Ontario Council for the Arts; forthcoming, Tarsier Records 102

Angles, by Trio Muo, with Glen Hall & Joe Sorbara, rec. summer 2004 with the assistance of the Canada Council & Ontario Council for the Arts; Tarsier Records CD 106

Jazz it Up, Brenda Scott Quartet, Schlager PG 101, summer 2002


Some Publications, Lectures, and Conferences:

“The Noise-Music Distinction as a Dimension of Improvisation Pedagogy,” Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquiam, September 2006

Rhythm, Musical Time, and Society White Cliffs Media, in press

Review of Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club. Popular Music and the Avant Garde, Bernard Gendron. The Jazz Report, Spring 2003.

Review/Essay of essays on music, Theodor W. Adorno, edited by Richard Leppert, Journal of Musicological Research XX/2, 2003

Film Review: Testimony, written and directed by Tony Palmer by Andrew Grossman and Michael Morse

Review/Essay of Music and the Racial Imagination, edited by Ronald Radano and Philip Bohlman, The World of Music 44(3), 2002

“Clarinet,” “Piccolo,” entries in The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music: Volume II Performance and Production HB • 0 8264 6322 3 •, edited by David Horn and John Shepherd, Cassell, April 2003

“African-American Music” entry, Encyclopedia of American Studies, Grolier, 2001, ISBN: 0-7172-9222-3