MD Trio

My electro-acoustic trio has been an ongoing project for many years, enabling me to create music for virtuoso performers like bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dan Weiss, and to blend intricate composition, highly open improvisation, and computer-based tools. I’ve released 4 trio albums on Clean Feed Records, including Somewhere In The Upstream, a concert-length scorestream dedicated to my teacher Yusef Lateef.

Part 1 excerpt
Part 6 excerpt
Part 7 excerpt
Somewhere In The Upstream
(Clean Feed, 2018)

“In an era where technology erases old truths about our world at a blistering pace, Michael Dessen is a musician for this moment…. Dessen sees technology as a partner to creativity, with the desire for more capabilities pushing new technology, and that technology in turn changing the way people think about what’s possible.” Downbeat profile


I’ve been fortunate to be part of the fields of networked and telematic music since 2007, with fantastic collaborators in the Americas, Asia and Europe. We’ve explored many formats and ideas across dozens of concerts, and I’ve worked as a director/producer as well as a composer-improviser. More details…

“What Peace Can We Hear,” from a live, networked performance with Myra Melford and Mark Dresser (June 2021)
“All Nearness Pauses” from Changing Tides 2, California-Seoul (2020)
KPBS feature on the Changing Tides 2 project
Trailer for DVD of Virtual Tour concert series, 2013


Digibone is my live trombone and computer performance environment, an animistic world of live electronics where the viscoelastic qualities of the slide trombone invoke shifting digital sprites and topographies. In addition to featuring it in my trio and other collaborations, I use it to perform solo, and released a solo album in 2019.

Digibone Forest (2019, Accretions)

The Usual Suspects:

Mensural Refractions:

Scores and scorestreams

I make various kinds of scores using graphic elements as well as staff notations, and I also create software-based scorestreams which display notations dynamically on screens for improvisers to interpret. My compositions are mostly for specific individuals and groups, not aimed at classical performers seeking new works, but for any curious students or peers, I offer various scores as free PDF downloads.

Video of (paper) score for “Fossils and Flows” from the CD Forget the Pixel, by the MD Trio
Excerpt from telematic score for “All Nearness Pauses” from Changing Tides 2, California-Seoul (2020)