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 fast survivor, Joshua Demby, stated the trigger was problems of a coronary heart assault.
Ms. Demby’s 1986 album, “Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate,” was a breakthrough for each her and the New Age style, promoting greater than 200,000 copies, a considerable determine for that sort of music. Pulse journal named it one of many high three New Age albums of the last decade and known as it “a landmark, full-length electronic symphony reminiscent of Baroque sacred music with crystalline effects that take you out of the realm of everyday experience.”
More 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 Space Records, Ms. Demby’s label for the previous 20 years.
Ms. Demby considered sound, when harnessed correctly, as having transformative and even therapeutic energy.
“Music is a realm of consciousness the listener enters by traveling on a beam of sound,” she informed Malibu Surfside News in 2010. “It opens the heart.”
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 live shows.
“Her home concerts were magical, immersive, healing, profound,” Ms. Rose-Collard stated by e-mail. Ms. Rose-Collard herself skilled these results.
“One of my deepest memories was being there with her while she was composing ‘Novus Magnificat,’” she stated. “I was across 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, pc displays and numerous devices, together with one she named the Space Bass, which she created within the 1960s when she was an artist in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood making sculptures.
“I brought this 10-foot-long sheet of mirror-finished steel to the studio and hung it up to start torching it,” she recalled within the 2010 interview — and she or he was transfixed by the sounds that emanated from the metallic when it wobbled. She added some brass and metal rods and different refinements, and the Space 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 achieve notes decrease than a conventional hammered dulcimer can produce.
“It ended up being almost five feet long,” Ms. Demby wrote on her website, “because that low C string demanded a certain length in order to achieve the note. The resonance is such that the sound of one string being struck hangs in the air for nearly 15 seconds.”
The author Dave Eggers, a nephew, recalled how his aunt’s albums and artworks had brightened his youth in Chicago.
“Whenever Connie would create a new album, she’d send it to us,” he stated by e-mail, “and the contrast between our many-shades-of-brown house and her records and posters, all with ethereal themes and rainbow colors, 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 front room, the Space Bass made sounds of thunder and crashing oceans,” Mr. Eggers wrote. “Most of her compositions were otherworldly — as if she were composing the soundtrack to the next world.”
Constance Mary Eggers was born on May 9, 1939, in Oakland, Calif. Her father, John, was an promoting government, 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 hands interacting,” she stated. “Within days I was taking piano lessons.”
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 often known as a multimedia artist. In 1966 Ms. Demby relocated to Maine, and shortly Mr. Rutman did, too. Around 1970 she joined him within the Central Maine Power Music Company, a efficiency group that made a lot of its music with do-it-yourself devices.
“It has given concerts in various auditoriums,” an area newspaper wrote of the group, “sometimes playing to large, enthusiastic audiences, and sometimes playing 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 usually carried out at planetariums and different astronomy services, together with the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
Her music was used or sampled in quite a few movies. Her different albums embrace “Set Free” (1989), “Aeterna” (1994) and “Spirit Trance” (2004).
“What Demby likes to do,” Ms. Demby informed The Los Angeles Times in 2000, “is to play energy, and play the audience as one of her instruments.”
Mr. Eggers stated he had spoken regularly to his aunt, most not too long ago a number of weeks in the past, when her well being was failing.
“Her memory was not good, and she couldn’t remember many friends or any recent events,” he stated. “But she knew her music. She knew everywhere she’d played, and the name of every composition.”
“Out of nowhere she began talking about heaven,” he added. “‘I think I’ll be welcomed there,’ she said. ‘I think they’d like the music I made, and they’ll open the gates for me.’”