Ned McGowan
Ned McGowan


Ned studying in Indiaplay

Hexnut, Nandi Dasaru, Tools, Paximadi,
Rickshaw Chase, Non sequitur

Hexnut, Nandi Dasaru, Tools, Paximadi

Ned  McGowan  

director Karnatic Lab, composer, flute

“McGowan’s music strives for an idiom in which various musics – American popular, European classical and avant-garde, Carnatic, a fascination with proportionally intricate rhythms, the use of microtones in the search for new subtleties of melody – and many others, rub against each other and generate new meanings.” This is how musicologist Bob Gilmore describes composer and flutist Ned McGowan. Born in the United States in 1970 and living in the Netherlands since 1994, McGowan has built his career by collaborating closely with ensembles such as the Axyz Ensemble, Calefax, the Zephyr Quartet and Hexnut.

His taste for diversity emerged already as a teenager who took classical flute lessons, played jazz and listened to rock. After finishing studies in flute at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Cleveland Insitute of Music, he moved to Amsterdam to continue his research. Over the course of eight years, he studied both flute and composition in Amsterdam and The Hague, exploring a wide range of subjects – from extended techniques to Carnatic forms and rhythms, from jazz improvisation to West-African drumming. His compositional voice was profoundly influenced by these experiences, even though he never directly follows any of these traditions stylistically

Then, in 2007, his specific fascination with Carnatic music led to an extended stay in India studying performance, rhythm and composition. “What fascinates me is the Carnatic use of rhythmical complexities developed through a tradition of performance.” This is clear in McGowan’s music, and emerges in his strong focus on rhythmically driven, technically virtuosic pieces, which while “very complex in many ways, are especially well put together” (Hans van Lissum,, 2007).

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