Constance Demby, whose ethereal music, a few of it performed on devices she designed, was a lot admired by New Age adherents, non secular seekers and followers of electronica, died on March 19 in Pasadena, Calif. She was 81.
Her son and solely speedy survivor, Joshua Demby, stated the trigger was problems of a coronary heart assault.
Ms. Demby’s 1986 album, “Novus Magnificat: By way of the Stargate,” was a breakthrough for each her and the New Age style, promoting greater than 200,000 copies, a considerable determine for that kind of music. Pulse journal named it one of many high three New Age albums of the last decade and referred to as it “a landmark, full-length digital symphony paying homage to Baroque sacred music with crystalline results that take you out of the realm of on a regular basis expertise.”
Extra not too long ago, tracks like “Alleluiah” and “Haven of Peace” from “Sanctum Sanctuorum,” a 2001 launch, have been drawing consideration from a brand new era of followers, stated Jon Birgé, proprietor of Hearts of Area Data, Ms. Demby’s label for the previous 20 years.
Ms. Demby seen sound, when harnessed correctly, as having transformative and even therapeutic energy.
“Music is a realm of consciousness the listener enters by touring on a beam of sound,” she advised Malibu Surfside Information in 2010. “It opens the center.”
Eleni Rose-Collard, her former assistant, noticed the results of Ms. Demby’s music on audiences, together with those that got here to her studio for small-scale home concert events.
“Her dwelling concert events have been magical, immersive, therapeutic, profound,” Ms. Rose-Collard stated by e-mail. Ms. Rose-Collard herself skilled these results.
“One among my deepest reminiscences was being there together with her whereas she was composing ‘Novus Magnificat,’” she stated. “I used to be throughout the room, I fell to my knees, crawled to her, put my head in her lap and sobbed.”
Ms. Demby’s studio was stuffed with synthesizers, laptop screens and varied devices, together with one she named the Area Bass, which she created within the Nineteen Sixties when she was an artist in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood making sculptures.
“I introduced this 10-foot-long sheet of mirror-finished metal to the studio and hung it as much as begin torching it,” she recalled within the 2010 interview — and she or he was transfixed by the sounds that emanated from the steel when it wobbled. She added some brass and metal rods and different refinements, and the Area Bass was born.
There was additionally the Whale Sail, one other sheet-metal creation, in addition to a hammered dulcimer that she and the famous instrument maker Sam Rizzetta designed particularly to succeed in notes decrease than a conventional hammered dulcimer can produce.
“It ended up being virtually 5 toes lengthy,” Ms. Demby wrote on her web site, “as a result of that low C string demanded a sure size with a purpose to obtain the notice. The resonance is such that the sound of 1 string being struck hangs within the air for practically 15 seconds.”
The author Dave Eggers, a nephew, recalled how his aunt’s albums and artworks had brightened his youth in Chicago.
“At any time when Connie would create a brand new album, she’d ship it to us,” he stated by e-mail, “and the distinction between our many-shades-of-brown home and her data and posters, all with ethereal themes and rainbow colours, was dramatic.”
Later he would go to the studio the place she made her music.
“In her place in Sierra Madre, in a light-filled entrance room, the Area Bass made sounds of thunder and crashing oceans,” Mr. Eggers wrote. “Most of her compositions have been otherworldly — as if she have been composing the soundtrack to the subsequent world.”
Constance Mary Eggers was born on Might 9, 1939, in Oakland, Calif. Her father, John, was an promoting govt, and her mom, Mary Elizabeth (Kingwell) Eggers, was a homemaker.
She grew up in Greenwich, Conn. When she was 8, her mom acquired a grand piano, which sparked Connie’s curiosity in music.
“I watched her two palms interacting,” she stated. “Inside days I used to be taking piano classes.”
Ms. Demby married David Demby in 1961 (the wedding would finish in divorce), and she or he spent a lot of that decade in New York, the place she fell in with musicians like Robert Rutman, who would turn into nicely generally known as a multimedia artist. In 1966 Ms. Demby relocated to Maine, and shortly Mr. Rutman did, too. Round 1970 she joined him within the Central Maine Energy Music Firm, a efficiency group that made a lot of its music with do-it-yourself devices.
“It has given concert events in varied auditoriums,” a neighborhood newspaper wrote of the group, “typically taking part in to massive, enthusiastic audiences, and typically taking part in to a baffled and resistant handful.”
Ms. Demby lived in Spain for a time earlier than settling in California. She took her music everywhere in the world. Mr. Eggers recalled her telling tales of acting at Stonehenge in England and on the foot of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. She typically carried out at planetariums and different astronomy services, together with the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
Her music was used or sampled in plenty of movies. Her different albums embrace “Set Free” (1989), “Aeterna” (1994) and “Spirit Trance” (2004).
“What Demby likes to do,” Ms. Demby advised The Los Angeles Instances in 2000, “is to play vitality, and play the viewers as one in every of her devices.”
Mr. Eggers stated he had spoken regularly to his aunt, most not too long ago just a few weeks in the past, when her well being was failing.
“Her reminiscence was not good, and she or he couldn’t keep in mind many associates or any latest occasions,” he stated. “However she knew her music. She knew in all places she’d performed, and the title of each composition.”
“Out of nowhere she started speaking about heaven,” he added. “‘I feel I’ll be welcomed there,’ she stated. ‘I feel they’d just like the music I made, they usually’ll open the gates for me.’”