Saturday, June 02, 2018

"Vocal Fry" Performance, Jan 11, 2016

Though this is posted elsewhere on site, wanted to share link here to performance from "The Vocal Fry," on WFMU, from Jan. 11, 2016:

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Adam Matta Database

Presenting, a living archive/portfolio of art, music and multimedia projects:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Seed and Idea
“Food for Thought”
by Adam Matta

I believe I have identified a discrepancy in the letter of law concerning intellectual property that should render illegal any entity owning a patent on a seed.  Clearly, this observation may have been made by others, but in the different dialogues concerning private parties and companies like Monsanto and the abusive practices they undertake, I have yet to see this specific argument, and feel it could prove efficacious in attempts to curtail these abuses.

Numerous corporations such as Monsanto, DOW, Bayer, have been seen to manipulate the letter of intellectual property law toward private gain.  As one example of their abuses, these entities will brandish their ownership of the patent on what is claimed to be a proprietary seed, and, in turn, hold farmers and other parties economically hostage. 

Since the dawn of agriculture, farmers would save unused seeds from one harvest year to the next, to be planted for further yields.  Even in the early 20th Century, as explorations in genetic modification and hybridization were undertaken, this practice applied.

In the 1980’s, however, corporations were able to manipulate a reading of the law and convince judges that a patent could be permitted to a genetically-modified seed.  An industrial bacterium had been developed by a corporation to decompose waste oil, an innovation for which a patent had been secured.  The courts declared that an original composition of matter, even one that is a living organism, could, in this case, be patented. However, lawyers were able to convince judges that the next step, awarding patents to organic plant varieties, including ones that eventuated in food intended for consumption, was inevitable.  Once the precedence had been set, they were able to demand a kind of licensing fee for farmers to use the seed.

Monsanto, for example, has developed powerful pesticides, which require the appropriate seed strain to go with it.  If farmers want to grow these pest-resistant crops, they must purchase a license for the seed.

There have been many cases in which farmers found to save seed for the next year were held liable, with lawsuits pursued against them.  There were other cases where a Monsanto-owned seed was accidentally carried onto the field of a farmer not under contract, but the company held these farmers accountable for lost proceeds and profits.

In these activities, Monsanto has accrued amounts of capital that allow them to continue the cycle of manipulating the letter of the law, and, in turn, dominate food production and the markets in which the food is sold.

At the time of this writing, it seems their goal is to dominate food production and distribution for the entire world.  If one wants to grow, or eat produce, one must purchase it from Monsanto.

Their stated goals to “feed the world” are dubious, at best.  In addition to raising concerns of  carcinogenic components, the pesticides they market have been shown to decimate and eradicate bee populations.  It is well known that bees provide as much as one out of every three bites of food we consume.

There are many who protest these events every day, some with great degrees of success, and there may be an opportunity in coming years for the Department of Justice in the United States to review whether Monsanto may be operating as a monopoly.

However, each year, these entities take further steps toward dominating the world’s food supply.  A merger is being explored between Monsanto and Bayer.  Bayer commits very similar types of abuses in the realm of pharmaceuticals.  Only through committed public outcry has there been a delay in this process.

While these numerous actions around the world are proving effective in challenging these abuses, I would like to offer one further observation, which may, in fact, prove to be especially effective in these challenges, and one which I have not seen widely discussed.  It concerns a contradiction in the ruling which has granted patents to seeds.

This observation may indeed have already been considered by the courts, but if it has not, I believe it is an outstanding error in judgment that I sincerely hope can be taken into consideration in any further opportunities to review and, ideally, overturn this sequence of decisions.  I realize it is likely I am not the only one to have observed this incongruence in the law, but I have yet to see it discussed widely, and so I put it forth here.

How can the law protect a seed?

Please consider:

A seed is as naturally-occurring and freely-flowing as an idea.

Ideas become works of art and innovation and seeds become nutrients, fruits and vegetables.

There have been many instances of 20th Century artworks and works in advertising in which the “idea” is seen to be indistinguishable from the “work.”  However, in the case of the letter of IP law, a distinction would immovably maintain.

It can be seen that if protection under the law will not extend to an idea, it must, in turn, be prohibited from extending to a seed, even those that claim to be “original innovations.”

When some have attempted to argue that seeds are naturally-occurring objects and it is hubris and unethical to own a patent on an item that comes from nature, Monsanto insists that their seeds do not occur in nature. 

I seek to draw attention to a discrepancy in this claim.  Their seeds may not be “birthed” in nature, like a traditional, organically-occurring seed, but any seed only expresses its intended function once it is interacting with natural contributors, such as soil, sunlight, water, etc.  If this condition is not observed, Monsanto chemists are simply designing and building small, pod-like constructions that sit on laboratory tables.

Monsanto’s seed “occurs” in nature just in the same way that a seed “occurs” in nature that has fallen from a stamen.  It undertakes interactions with soil, water, sunlight, etc., that are independent of its creator, unpredictable, in order that it fulfill its intended utility, i.e., to become food for consumption. 

A seed is a fundamentally different category of industrial item than a machine, a piece of code, a bacterium developed with a specific industrial purpose, or any other innovation protected under IP law.

It is reproachable to believe that a GM seed for, say, an apple, is an invention whose function is to withstand pesticides.  This function is only one part of its ultimate utility: to become a consumable food product, which happens to also be pesticide-resistant.

In copyright, a project may not be protected if it is only an idea.  Once the idea is fixed in a tangible medium, in a document, or physical form, it is then eligible for protection.

A primary reason that ideas are ineligible for protection is their ephemeral nature.  It is challenging to locate from where ideas come, and how they occur in one or more imaginations at any synchronous times.  Ideas flow throughout the collective society, and it is impossible for one individual to claim its ownership.

Seeds, likewise, can be transferred from one individual’s field to another’s, as in the cases above, where a Monsanto seed was carried onto an adjacent field by rain, wind, animal or bird.

Monsanto itself has claimed that their propriety over their seeds should operate in precisely the same manner as software protection: users are prohibited from copying software like Microsoft Word, and from using these copies, without financial or legal consequences.

A seed, even a genetically-modified one, is not a piece of code.  It is an organic item, which does not express its utility until planted in soil, and is interacting with sunlight, water, nutrients.  The seed undergoes these activities independent of its creator, in naturally-occurring processes.  Patent law does not extend to any natural processes.  A seed is categorically not a seed without undergoing interaction in a natural process.  These chemists have invented an object that must interact with the natural world in order to fulfill its function, not a self-contained object whose utility is complete and evident once constructed.

As stated above, a seed is not a machine, or other technological innovation.  A seed possibly occupies a sort of liminal category between “idea” and “object,” but does not sufficiently exhibit fulfillment of the requirements of the latter.  It also does not fulfill adequate consideration for “code” or “software.”

It must therefore be rendered illegal to own a patent on any seed, and, for that matter, stem cell, or pharmaceutical, which likewise depend on external, unpredictable, naturally-occurring processes to fulfill their intended utilities.

As we move toward new combinations of biology, technology, mechanical innovation, coded software, integration of these in our everyday activities, ensuing concerns regarding privacy and citizenship, corporate abuses, sentient beings who are birthed from code or genetic modification, and resources of capital distributed disproportionately away from those living in poverty, and who need to eat adequately, I believe it is critical to observe and defend the distinction I draw here.

If the law does not extend protection rights to an idea, it cannot extend them to a seed.

For an example of an original combination of industrial components intended for public consumption, which, unlike GM seeds, qualifies for both patent and copyright protection, please see this project, an invention from 2006:

ß  audio tape
ß  walkman
project: “Bicycle Wheel and Walkman”

Presented at World Maker Faire, 2012

Companies like Monsanto attempt to claim that the patent on its seed should operate like a copyright on software, but, in fact, unlike my innovation, which qualifies for both copyright and patent protection, I believe I have demonstrated above that its seed must, in fact, be seen to meet qualifications for neither.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rhiannon Gidden's "Tomorrow Is My Turn;" "Signal Strength" by Chris Shimojima

I am honored to be part of Rhiannon Giddens' new album, "Tomorrow Is My Turn."  I am featured on the new single, "Black is the Color."  Please follow link to this incredible record.

I was also recently featured in this brilliant concept video by Chris Shimojima:

Please come check my next solo show at Joe's Pub, January 2nd, 2015, 7:30 pm!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Telfair Museum, this weekend, in Savannah, GA

Really looking forward to performing this weekend at Telfair Museum, in Savannah, GA.  Here is some press that came out about the show.  Thank you, ConnectSavannah!

I'll be demonstrating the Bicycle Wheel and Walkman sculpture on Saturday, Feb 1.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Dear Friends,
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!  Hope this finds you in good health and spirits!
Proud to announce I will be performing a solo show January 31st at Telfair Museum, in Savannah, GA.  I will be presenting new music and video demonstrations at their Pulse Arts and Technology Festival.  February 1st, I'll be demonstrating my "Bicycle Wheel and Walkman" sculpture, which earned a Make Magazine Editor's Choice Award at Maker Faire, in 2011 and '12.
Grateful for this recent mention on the Joe's Pub Tumblr website by archival artist Michael Arthur:
Please check Michael's drawing work at
I will be performing at Here Arts Center, January 12th--the weekend of APAP-- opening for, and performing with, indie-pop outfit, Sky-Pony, as part of the Prototype Series.  Show begins at 9pm.
Sunday, Jan 12, 9pm
Here Arts Center
opening and performing with Sky-Pony
145 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013
(212) 647-0202
Please stay tuned for announcements of a new multimedia project release in February, as well as some new projects, NYC performances, and collaborations!  
Best wishes, and a blessed 2014,
“Matta is a human beatboxer who can do absolutely unbelievable things with nothing more than a microphone.” Mother Jones

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Joe's Pub mention

Here's a recent post by Michael Arthur @inklines, the Archival Artist at Joe's Pub, talking about my music and drawing:

Thanks Michael!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

new video

shot with the help of Cynthia Malaran.  Hope you enjoy.

more to come!

Friday, January 18, 2013

updates january

Dear Friends, 
I'm proud to announce that the album I worked on and toured with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Leaving Eden, has been nominated for a Grammy in the Folk category!  I sent some reviews in a previous post, please check out our work: 
I am also excited to announce that I have been invited to be an artist in residence at School of Visual Arts' VisibleFutures Lab, which is a facility dedicated to hacking, DIY building and inventing with technology.  I will be working on a performance where I can trigger video and other events with my voice, as well as other projects.  There will be several public showings as part of the residency. 
Jan 11th at Art in Flux Gallery in Harlem, I collaborated with singer Goussy Celestin to perform vocal improvisations in response to visual art pieces in a show called "Speaking in Tongues," pieces that deal with invented languages and codices.  The show was curated by Ellen Fagan, at Art in Flux Gallery, 961 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, and closes Jan 25th.  Video of the project is on the way. 

In January, I will be a guest teaching artist with BEAMCamp,, which teaches building and electronics to youth.  We will be instructing the students to create audio bike wheels, like the piece I created in 2006, and showed at Maker Faire,, only this time, we will be adding sequences of animated frames to the wheel, to create audio/visual zoetropes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Bicycle Drawing

In early 2012, I was a guest artist with BEAMCamp, which helps kids build electronic, tech and other projects with their own two hands.  At the event, I performed "Bicycle Drawing," to a live looped beatbox soundtrack, augmented with scratching on the "Bike Wheel Turntable."  Then, kids were invited to add their own embellishments to the painting, using scrap metal parts as ink stamps.  Here are some photos from the event:

Photos by Emily Wilson.

Thanks to BEAMCamp for having me be a part.  I'm proud to say I will be teaching with them this winter at their space in Brooklyn.  Please check the site for info.

Here are images of final bike drawings:


Here is video of the bike drawing performance:

Please contact about prints, original works, commissions and performance appearances.

Please note, homepage photo by Angela Jimenez.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


two past performances, "Beatbox Drift" (New Museum for Contemporary Art, 1/08), and "Adam Matta and Friends: Muslim Voices" (BAMCafe, 6/09):

day in the life of a New York City dweller:

and here is a video from "Cark," a project featuring Nihan Devecioglu and Cenk Erdogan, recorded in Istanbul, 2011.  Album is now available, contact for details:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Updates, April

Hey Fam,

Happy spring! Lots of exciting news to report!

I am proud to be a rotating guest musician with the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.  I appear on their latest Nonesuch release, Leaving Eden, produced by Nashville legend, Buddy Miller.

The album has been getting great reviews including a 4-star write-up in Rolling Stone. Check out what critics had to say below:

Mother Jones: Matta is a human beatboxer who can do absolutely unbelievable things with nothing more than a microphone.

Washington Post: The interpretation feels a bit looser; boundaries are pushed a bit further — more and more; the Drops seem to be saying that keeping this music alive means not just playing it but playing with it.

Mikael Wood, LA Times: The result is a rarity in the Chocolate Drops’ world: roots music as useful as it is beautiful.

PopMatters: One year ago, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were presented with golden gramophones in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album for their 2010 release, Genuine Negro Jig. But for it’s diversity, experimentation, and excellent performances, Leaving Eden is even better.

In addition to Leaving Eden, as part of the band, I collaborated with them on tracks that were chosen for:

Amnesty International's Chimes of Freedom: Bob Dylan Tribute album   

The Chieftains' Voice of Ages 50th Anniversary album  

and The Hunger Games Soundtrack, produced by T-Bone Burnett

I will be doing select dates with the Drops this year.  Check back for a more official announcement soon.

Also proud to announce a collaboration with Nihan Devecioglu and Cenk Erdogan, entitled "Cark," (Pronounced: "tch-ark", meaning "gear" in Turkish).  We combine Turkish folk, Western Classical, free improv and groove. We released our new album, on Anason Records, in Munich, last month.  I will have details on how to purchase the record in the coming weeks.

Excited to be a part of the development of Aaron Jafferis' How to Break:

HOW TO BREAK tells the story of two hospitalized teenagers – a b-boy with sickle cell and a b-girl with leukemia – breaking through their diagnoses in search of a gut understanding of what it means to be “ill.” A 35-minute excerpt was performed 4/9 by Kwikstep, Rokafella, Adam Matta, Carra Patterson, Rona Figueroa, Gio Perez, Christopher Edwards, and Aaron Jafferis at NYTB at the D-Lounge, at the Daryl Roth Theatre.

Until the next post, please check out this remix I happened upon at the Library of Congress last year, searching the stacks at the American Folk Life Center with the Chocolate Drops when we were on the road.

1. Click here
2. Then Click here

The pieces are samples of Coptic Chant, and an Omaha Gourd Dance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Excited and honored to be traveling today to Istanbul, to make music with Nihan Devecioglu and Cenk Erdogan. Here is a session we did in 2009:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hello, sorry for the delay in posting, it's been pretty non-stop. I'm currently on the road with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, please see their site for tour dates, info on their recent Grammy (!) and more.

Last fall, I was lucky to have been part of the Beat Rockers program, where we taught beatboxing to blind youth in the Bronx. Please see Beat Rockers for more info.

This summer, in addition to the Drops, I will be performing at Lincoln Center, opening for Laurie Anderson, with Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey, and others. I will also be returning to Oregon Shakespeare Festival to workshop and perform new material by Sue Carney, and by Aaron Jafferis, OSF.

Hope to see you this summer!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

McFerrin in Moscow

Just catching up with writing from Moscow, where Bobby McFerrin and company staged "Bobble," an improvised opera based on the story of the Tower of Babel. The shows (2) were really powerful, and it was thrilling to be in Moscow, where it was 15 below or more every day. Thank you so much to Original Artists and Olympus Foundation for making the shows and incredible rehearsal process possible. So glad I got to meet and work with such great people and inspiring artists.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Had an excellent time performing with Sxip Shirey at the Amanda Palmer/Boston Pops throwdown in Boston at Symphony Hall on New Year's Eve. Here's a pic of us getting down:

Thanks to Lance Horne for the photo.
Tomorrow, I fly to Moscow, to perform in "Bobble," featuring Bobby McFerrin, an improvised opera based on the story of the Tower of Babel. 17 emerging vocalists from different parts of the globe will come together for five days to put on two concerts on the 25th and 26th. I'm so thrilled to be a part of this production. Here is a photo of The Moscow International House of Music, where we will be performing:

Bobby McFerrin

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I was in Ashland, OR, in August, for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival--thank you Claudia and OSF!!--and the amazing Carol Bonney introduced me to DenizenTV; we shot this performance at their studio:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

recent shows, upcoming

Hey Everyone, long time no speak, been trying to keep up with gigs...some highlights of the past two months:

BAMCafe--Muslim Voices presents Adam Matta and Friends: the show was off the chain, thank you so much to everyone who came out and filled the venue to capacity. I have DVD's available of the entire performance for anyone interested in viewing what transpired. We are working on a shorter edit of the footage, to show to presenters in other venues

The Stone--got to play with an amazing presence, Ned Rothenberg. Many thanks to him for putting the show together and offering the chance to create some grooves with him

Museum of Contemporary Art-Detroit--many thanks to LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) for inviting me to come and jam with the mech ensemble. Here's a clip of some of what went down at the packed event (Detroit rocks....)

Had an excellent time rocking a great variety night in LA, The Status Show. Thank you so much Abby and Maria for having me!!

3 dates on tour with The Wiyos, opening for Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson--it was extra dope playing the huge stage with this great group of old-time/Americana musicians, good friends from Bklyn...check the site for info on the new record, which features my beatboxing on numerous tracks, and which has debuted on the CMJ and country music charts nationwide...The WIyos

Prospect Park Bandshell--with the awesome Luminescent Orchestrii, opening for Kronos Quartet. It was a rush to play the large stage, with the pinnacle of sound systems, and the pinnacle of gypsy/punk/klezmer/tango bands, you know, all those gypsy/punk/klezmer/tango bands....:)

Sycamore--*incredibly* psyched to have connected with Roy Nathanson and Sotto Voce. Beatboxer Napoleon Maddox has been the in house VP man for a minute in this spoken word/jazz/groove project led by Roy, but I'm gonna be on deck to fill in for him when he's touring with his own crew, IsWhat?!

World Financial Center--rocked with Karsh Kale and Timeline at this beautiful venue. Please check out Karsh's music: Karsh Kale. I'm ecstatic to be on his roster as well....

Jazzit, Salzburg, Austria--had the honor and pleasure of collabing with Nihan Devecioglu, whom I met at the Carnegie Hall workshop with Bobby McFerrin in '08. Nihan put together a project with the unreal Turkish fretless guitar player, Cenk Erdogan, and myself: we played extended sets opening for the Salzburg Opera Festival, and at the bomb venue, Jazzit; we also created a beatbox/vocal improvisation workshop for the public, with the heavy-hitting Austrian beatbox crew, Massive Beats Collective, and gave a brief interview/performance on local radio. Thank you so much to Nihan, and to Eva, for organizing this project. We are trying to continue it in the fall, with the newly-presented opportunity to record in Salzburg and perform some more dates....thank you Nihan and Cenk!

I'm currently en route to Portland, where I will play some more dates with the Wiyos at the Pickathon Festival, then I'll be back in NYC for a hit at South Street Seaport with Yo Yo Nation, orchestrated by Pat Cuartero, whom I met when we were invited to play a gig by in '07...then I'm excited to announce I'll be part of a brief tour of SE Asia, with beatboxers Kid Lucky, Reeps1, and Dharni, sponsored by Adidas...then, a week performing shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show--two solo performances and one collab with Portland Cello Ensemble, as well as some workshopping of vocal percussion and Shakespeare...ongoing is an evening-length modern dance composition with beatbox score, in collaboration with choreographer, Tami Stronach, to be presented in March 2010: we will be presenting excerpts of the piece-in-progress Oct. 22-24 at Joe's Pub....

Monday, June 08, 2009

BAMCafe, Joe's Pub

Hey everyone, getting very excited for this Saturday's show at BAMCafe:

Muslim Voices at BAMcafé

Saturday, Jun 13th 9:30pm

Free admission

Composer/producer Adam Matta is a beatboxing tour de force, melding hip-hop, electronic, jazz, and traditional Middle Eastern music for a unique and driving sound. Performing with his friends Dr. Fawzia Afzal-Khan (spoken word/voice), Nihan Devecioglu (voice), Noah Hoffeld (cello), Remi Kanazi (spoken word), Eyal Maoz (guitar), and Kenny Muhammad The Human Orchestra (beatbox), this second night of Muslim Voices in BAMcafé is sure to thrill.

Muslim Voices Festival

Hope to see you. Also, playing tomorrow night at Joe's Pub, with Sxip Shirey:

Sxip Shirey, with Rachelle Garnier and Adam Matta
Tuesday, June 9th, 9:30pm
Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette St. (Public Theater at Astor Place)