Matt was raised in Jackson, Mississippi by an Episcopal Bishop and a Jungian-inspired social worker. During his adolescence he walked away from the church and onto a mystical path, a path he continues to walk today. While his parents instilled in him fundamental values related to social justice, dream awareness, laughter, and barbecue. Drawn to visual art and music he studied guitar for several years with master folk musician Tim Avalon, while playing in rock, jazz, and experimental ensembles in Mississippi. During his 20s (2001-2004) he lived in Portland, Oregon and fell into the vibrant arts community there, working with poets Joseph Bradhshaw and David Abel, musicians Jonathan Sielaff and Seth Nehil, filmmaker Orland Nutt, and many others. At first focused on free improvisation and electroacoustic instrument design, he would go on to stage “Faces of Sound,” a series of scored-improvisations for community ensembles in public spaces. The scores for these works employed Matt’s concept of “social geometry”–inspired by his studies in biology, anthropology, and philosophy. These scores have been featured in various galleries as well as the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona and the Leonardo Music Journal.
Among many other relocations, Matt spent part of 2004 enrolled at CalArts, where he studied music composition with Michael Pisaro, while performing the ensemble music of Cornelius Cardew and John Zorn. Seeking to understand the scientific basis of sound, music, and listening, he went on to receive his BA in Speech & Hearing Sciences from Portland State University and subsequently worked as a Sr. Research Assistant for the Portland Veterans’ Hospital. During this time Matt also co-edited Foarm Magazine, a biannual arts and culture periodical. It was through Foarm that he wrote his first notable essays, including a multi-author series on Philippine composer/ethnomusicologist José Maceda. Also through Foarm, he would publish, “Tools of Mind,” a collection of scores focusing on imaginal projection, featuring the work of Pauline Oliveros, Peter Ablinger, Dan Senn, Michael Pisaro, Yasunao Tone, and many others.
“Tools of Mind,” a mini-anthology of artist scores and related models from literature, architecture, religion, medicine, biology, and more; 2007
Seeking to fuse his creative and scholarly work, Matt next pursued a Ph.D. in Music Composition at Princeton University, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the role of Buddhism in the creative process of Arthur Russell. Living in Brooklyn during this time, Matt also performed regularly as a singer-songwriter, while composing ensemble works for groups like JACK Quartet and NOW Ensemble, as well as staging multi-media performances at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, Judson Church, and other notable venues.
Since 2018, Matt has lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he has focused on visual art and archival research. In 2021 he staged his first solo exhibition, “Wondering Stars,” at Greensboro Project Space. This exhibit featured musical installation, sculpture, painting, illustration, video, and found object works. And it brought to the foreground the role of Jungian-style dreamwork, divination, and intuitive geometry which have guided much of Matt’s music and visual art over the last two decades. Beyond the name of the exhibition, the term “Wondering Stars” (aka Astramira) refers to Matt’s dream-derived divination system, consisting of 81 geometric emblems with coded dream figures, which he uses for daily meditation and which feature prominently in his music, lyrics, and visual art.
Matt has recently released two albums of “dream songs” and multiple albums of instrumental guitar music, notably “Wondering Stars” and “The Seraphic Mirror.” More recent compositions, such as “Natural Magic,” have explored composing “animist karaoke” music, inspired by Matt’s dreamwork, for solo instrumentalist and pre-recorded soundtrack–related works (“Arachnomancy”) have been commissioned by Carl and Margery Abbot through Portland’s Third Angle.
One of Matt’s ongoing preoccupations continues to be research, writing, and most recently podcasting. It was through his graduate dissertation on Arthur Russell, that he discovered his passion for archival research, while decisively embracing a metaphysical perspective on music. Looking back through American history, Matt next sought to find other forgotten gems of metaphysically inspired music-making, resulting in Secret Sound.
Secret Sound is a podcast and research project focusing on the esoteric history of American music, from the 18th century to the 20th century. For over 10 years host Matt Marble has been researching visionary and often marginalized American artists and the esoteric traditions that have empowered their work. From psychic pianists to prophetic instrument-makers, these artists have found inspiration from deep within and far, far away, often musically expressing themselves in experimental and imaginative ways. While through the inner affirmations and progressive social values operative across esoteric tradition, this history is also naturally diverse and inclusive of women, people of color, and LGBTQ artists.
Each episode focuses on a single artist and explores their biography, creative process, musical works, and spiritual influences. Along the way, listeners are introduced to diverse esoteric traditions, such as Theosophy, spiritualism, Obeah, Enochian Magic, and more. We’ll also explore aspects of American history and society as broader contexts to these traditions and the artists drawn to them.
Matt’s writing is often in the form of person-centered spiritual biographies. His online essay “The Colorful Life of Daulby” (Desert Suprematism, 2017) looks into an obscure Theosophical composer, Edward Maryon, who–among various infamous debacles–went from a notable opera composer to developing his own tone-color meditation method or Marcotone. Matt’s in depth online essay “The Illusioned Ear” (Ear_Wave_Event, 2014) explores the life, philosophy, and musical séance practice of metaphysical author and psychic pianist, Francis Grierson. “The Hermes of Harlem” (Abraxas Journal, 2014) is a print essay which reviews the role of African American esotericism in early 20th century Harlem before exploring the life of civil rights activist, metaphysical author, secret society founder, and WWII prisoner of war, Robert T. Browne. “A Chirping of Stars is Tickling My Thin Ear” (The Open Space, 2009) focuses on the auditory imagination and creative process of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam.