Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Instrument: Electronics | Location: Los Angeles

Very nice - swings good! It's great doing the whole thing yourself. I just go in and play, and the rest is out of my hands.
—Lee Konitz (from handwritten letter)

Updated: July 11, 2022

Born: March 11, 1956

Michael Robinson voices and colors his compositions with instrumental timbres and scale tunings from diverse world music cultures including India, Africa, the Near East, Japan, China, Korea, Bali, Java, Cuba, Brazil, Australia, Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

He composes using traditional Western notation and programs a computer and electronic sound module to perform his music in real time without overdubbing.

"I'm interested in discovering and liberating the expressive quality - the essence - of computer- performed music. I want this music to emanate from the computer in the same way other sounds emanate in nature, like wind and water." (Michael Robinson quoted in Keyboard)

Statement from Michael Robinson:

Asked about my approach to composition and performance, one thought is the reimagining of musical syntax from jazz and Indian classical music through prisms of personal temperament and body chemistry guided by raga elements. Ragas are a wondrous musical form from India believed to be based in divinity, and used as a basis for improvisation and composition with unlimited developmental potential. European classical, rock, and myriad American popular and esoteric forms are part of who I am musically, too.

Meruvina is my orchestra and instrument at once, consisting of a sound module with sampled and synthesized timbres, a computer, and miraculous software programmed to perform my compositions in real time working from fully notated scores. Meruvina is a name invented by combining my initials, MER, together with the Sanskrit word for musical instrument, "vina". "Mer" was extended to "Meru" when I recalled the mythological mountain where the Hindu gods reside, Mount Meru. My reason for devising a new musical moniker came with the realization that beautiful sounding instruments deserve beautiful sounding names as opposed to technical, scientific designations. For example, we don’t call the flute the "metal blowhole", or the piano the "wooden-boxed, metallic-hammered mechanism"!

I compose for close, even meditational, listening on both intellectual and spiritual planes, including elements of adbhuta rasa (wonderment, exhilaration), shanta rasa (tranquility, peace), and veera rasa (majesty, valor). Rasas are nine transcendental emotional states or sentiments forming the aesthetic basis of Indian music, drama and dance, reflecting the belief that all of human experience may be described as expressing one or several combined rasas. In confluence with the concept of rasa, every composition has a unique personality I endeavor to enhance through vibrant musical color, melody, rhythm, language and architecture.

Azure Miles Records was formed to present the changing seasons of my music. The name of my label is after William Butler Yeats, "Maybe in some isle of isles, In the South Seas azure miles..." and I now have a catalog of 162 albums from 1991 to the present. Cover art for each album uses hand silkscreen and hand woodblock printed papers from Japan, India, and Nepal. I choose these designs to reflect and enhance the music. Azure Miles and the poetic phrase it originates from brought to mind new musical vistas of previously unimagined beauty and enchantment.

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"These acoustic recordings showcase another facet of Robinson's musicianship. They are as

exciting and sui generis as anything Robinson has produced. They're also a testament to his

consummate artistry no matter what "tool" he uses, computer or piano." (Hrayr Attarian, All

About Jazz)

"You are reaching into the core of the spirit of Indian classical music, which is a spiritual

yearning." (Harihar Rao, The Music Circle cofounder with Ravi Shankar)

"Robinson's sense of timing, phrasing, form, and flow guide listeners toward his alternative

vision. His music has the clarity and ingenuousness of Chinese brush painting, some of the

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Frank Sinatra
voice / vocals
John Coltrane
Stan Getz
saxophone, tenor
Lee Konitz
saxophone, alto
Jackie McLean
saxophone, alto
Charlie Parker
saxophone, alto


Michael Robinson Albums