WILL MASON (b. 1988) is a composer, performer, and music scholar. His eclectic musical and scholarly interests comprise avant-garde jazz, modern composition, and electronic music.
His debut album as a bandleader was with the Will Mason Ensemble, a jazz-inflected chamber ensemble of voice, oboe, alto sax, two guitars, bass, and Mason on drums and electronics. That album, Beams of the Huge Night, was released on New Amsterdam Records in 2015. The Boston Globe wrote that the compositions "balance improvisation and composition, and are shot through with asymmetrical melodies and grooves, grinding harmonies, and atmospheric bouts of stillness."
Mason also leads the group Happy Place, an avant-rock band of two singers, two guitarists, and two drummers. The band recorded their debut album Northfield, which was released in 2016 on Exit Stencil Records. The New York Times wrote that the band "succeeds at fusing experimental rock and chamber music...The cathartic two-guitar attack has the feel of avant-rock, while the astringent harmony recalls experiments by Charles Ives." Their follow-up album "Tendrils" was released October 2020. The New York Times wrote that it was "experimental yet still catchy," and it was named "Album of the Year" by Avant Music News.
Mason has written pieces for the Nouveau Classical Project, Michi Wiancko, and Zachary Hobin. Musicians Mason has performed with include Ned Rothenberg, Anna Webber, Matt Mitchell, Leila Bordreuil, Dan Lippel, Charlotte Mundy, Elaine Lachica, Elias Stemeseder, Greg Chudzik, Miles Okazaki, Kate Gentile, Marc Hannaford, and Andrew Smiley. His music has been supported by grants from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Puffin Foundation.
Mason is Associate Professor of Music and chair of the music department at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, where he teaches courses in music technology, music theory, and 20th and 21st century musics. His scholarship focuses on the nexus of music technology and embodied cognition; microtonality; and music and/as labor in the digital age. Mason is co-editor of and a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Spectral Music, and he also has written for Grove Music Online. He is currently at work on a monograph that uses metaphors of construction as a lens for analyzing a range of aesthetic preoccupations in electronic and computer music from the last sixty years.
Mason holds a PhD in music theory from Columbia University, a BA in politics from Oberlin College and a BMus in contemporary improvisation from Oberlin Conservatory. His mentors at those schools have included Ellie Hisama, George Lewis, Billy Hart, Wendell Logan, Brian Alegant, Arnie Cox, and Rebecca Leydon.
He lives with his wife, artist Erin Lobb Mason, in Rhode Island.