Active since the late fifties, Yasunao Tone’s work ranges from historical avant-garde to contemporary digital. He was involved with Fluxus, has links with Yoko Ono and John Cage, and founded the seminal Group Ongaku. The long-time New York resident began to concentrate on the possibilities of the CD as a performance medium in the 80s.
Born in Tokyo in 1935, Tone graduated from Chiba Japanese National University in 1957. In 1965 Tone co-organized ‘Fluxus Week, A Tokyo Fluxus festival’ with Toshi Ichiyanagi and Kuniharu Akiyama. He founded Team Randomthe first computer art group in Japan, and they organized Biogode Process Music Festival in 1966 (the first computer art festival in Japan, which featured Tone's ‘Theatre Piece for Computer’). Tone was also involved with the Intermedia Festival in 1969 and also composed a great deal of experimental music for use in films, theatre, and dance pieces. Tone moved to New York in 1972, where he participated in numerous Fluxus and solo concerts. He forged creative partnerships with John Zorn, performing in ‘Jai Alai’ at the Club 57 on St Mark's Place, and contributed vocals to Butch Morris's ‘Current Trends In Racism In Modern America’ (Morris's first improvisational orchestral piece). He was commissioned to write pieces by new music flautist Barbara Held.
A pioneer in the use of prepared CDs, Tone first scratched his own self-described ‘wounded’ scotch tape and pinhole-punctured compact disc in 1985, released as Solo For Wounded CD on Tzadik in 1997. Tone has since released several solo albums on labels like Mego and Asphodel, has collaborated with contemporary sound artists such as Tim Hecker, Christian Marclay, and Jim O’Rourke, and created sound installations for prestigious events such as the Yokohama Triennale. Tone’s decades of sound experimentation were honoured by the Ars Electronica Golden Nica prize for digital music in 2002. In 2007 a CD compilation of Tone’s work, accompanied by a 120-page book, Yasunao Tone: Noise Media Language, was produced by the sound art imprint Errant Bodies Press.