Constance Demby, whose ethereal music, a few of it performed on devices she designed, was a lot admired by New Age adherents, religious seekers and followers of electronica, died on March 19 in Pasadena, Calif. She was 81.
Her son, Joshua Demby, mentioned the trigger was issues of a coronary heart assault.
Ms. Demby’s 1986 album, “Novus Magnificat: Via the Stargate,” was a breakthrough for each her and the style, promoting greater than 200,000 copies, a considerable determine for this sort of music. Pulse journal named it one of many prime three New Age albums of the last decade and referred to as it “a landmark, full-length digital symphony harking back to Baroque sacred music with crystalline results that take you out of the realm of on a regular basis expertise.”
Extra not too long ago, tracks like “Alleluiah” and “Haven of Peace” from “Sanctum Sanctuorum,” a 2001 launch, have been drawing consideration from a brand new era of followers, mentioned Jon Birgé, proprietor of Hearts of Area Information, her label for the previous 20 years.
Ms. Demby considered sound, when harnessed correctly, as having transformative and even therapeutic energy.
“Music is a realm of consciousness the listener enters by touring on a beam of sound,” she advised Malibu Surfside Information in 2010. “It opens the guts.”
Eleni Rose-Collard, her former assistant, noticed the consequences of Ms. Demby’s music on audiences, together with those that got here to her studio for small-scale home live shows.
“Her residence live shows had been magical, immersive, therapeutic, profound,” Ms. Rose-Collard mentioned by e-mail. Ms. Rose-Collard herself skilled these results.
“One among my deepest reminiscences was being there along with her whereas she was composing ‘Novus Magnificat,’” she mentioned. “I used to be throughout the room, I fell to my knees, crawled to her, put my head in her lap and sobbed.”
Ms. Demby’s studio was filled with synthesizers, laptop screens and numerous devices, together with one she named the Area Bass, which she created within the Nineteen Sixties when she was an artist in SoHo making sculptures.
“I introduced this 10-foot-long sheet of mirror-finished metal to the studio and hung it as much as begin torching it,” she recalled within the 2010 interview — and he or she was transfixed by the sounds that emanated from the steel when it wobbled. She added some brass and metal rods and different refinements, and the Area Bass was born.
There was additionally the Whale Sail, one other sheet-metal creation, in addition to a hammered dulcimer she and the famous instrument maker Sam Rizzetta designed particularly to achieve decrease notes than a conventional hammered dulcimer can produce.
“It ended up being nearly 5 toes lengthy,” she wrote on her web site, “as a result of that low C string demanded a sure size as a way to obtain the notice. The resonance is such that the sound of 1 string being struck hangs within the air for practically 15 seconds.”
The author Dave Eggers, a nephew, recalled how his aunt’s albums and artworks brightened his youth in Chicago.
“Every time Connie would create a brand new album, she’d ship it to us,” he mentioned by e-mail, “and the distinction between our many-shades-of-brown home and her information and posters, all with ethereal themes and rainbow colours, was dramatic.”
Later he would go to that studio the place she made her music.
“In her place in Sierra Madre, in a light-filled entrance room, the Area Bass made sounds of thunder and crashing oceans,” he wrote. “Most of her compositions had been otherworldly — as if she had been composing the soundtrack to the following world.”
Constance Mary Eggers was born on Might 9, 1939, in Oakland, Calif. Her father, John, was an promoting government, and her mom, Mary Elizabeth (Kingwell) Eggers, was a homemaker.
She grew up in Greenwich, Conn. When she was 8, her mom acquired a grand piano, which sparked Connie’s curiosity in music.
“I watched her two arms interacting,” she mentioned. “Inside days I used to be taking piano classes.”
Within the Nineteen Sixties she was married to David Demby; the wedding led to divorce. She spent a lot of that decade in New York, the place she fell in with musicians together with Robert Rutman, who would turn out to be effectively referred to as a multimedia artist. When Mr. Rutman relocated to Maine, Ms. Demby and others did, too. Round 1970 she joined him within the Central Maine Energy Music Firm, a efficiency group that made a lot of its music with selfmade devices.
“It has given live shows in numerous auditoriums,” an area newspaper wrote of the group, “generally enjoying to massive, enthusiastic audiences, and generally enjoying to a baffled and resistant handful.”
Ms. Demby lived in Spain for a time earlier than settling in California. She took her music everywhere in the world. Mr. Eggers recalled listening to her inform tales of acting at Stonehenge in England and the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. She usually carried out at planetariums and different astronomy amenities, together with the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
Her music was used or sampled in a lot of movies. Her different albums embody “Set Free” (1989), “Aeterna” (1994) and “Spirit Trance” (2004).
Her son survives her.
“What Demby likes to do,” Ms. Demby advised The Los Angeles Occasions in 2000, “is to play power, and play the viewers as one in all her devices.”
Mr. Eggers mentioned he spoke often to his aunt, most not too long ago just a few weeks in the past, when her well being was failing.
“Her reminiscence was not good, and he or she couldn’t keep in mind many mates or any current occasions,” he mentioned. “However she knew her music. She knew all over the place she’d performed, and the identify of each composition.”
“Out of nowhere she started speaking about heaven,” he added. “‘I feel I’ll be welcomed there,’ she mentioned. ‘I feel they’d just like the music I made, they usually’ll open the gates for me.’”