Marc Wagnon grew up in Switzerland, where he studied classical percussion at the Geneva Conservatory. Marc moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1981 to attend the Berklee School of Music, furthering his mallet technique and studying composition. He eventually settled in New York City, studying Latin American and West African rhythms. He joined the Brazilian percussion group Batucada and formed his own progressive jazz ensemble, Shadowlines.
Marc’s interest in merging new ideas with the musical influences he is exposed to in New York City is his incentive for working within its wealth of creativity. He has released three solo albums which include contributions from a succession of jazz luminaries, and was instrumental in creating the avant-rock band Dr. Nerve, which went on to record 7 albums. Throughout the mid-1980s to 1990s, Marc’s style developed in both composition and free improvisation, mixing sound sampling and manipulated natural sounds in working with numerous musicians in the New York downtown scene. This led him to form the New York Improvisers Group, a 10-piece ensemble based on conducted improvisation.
Marc’s interest in science grew out of a fascination with astronomy. Primarily self-taught, he also attended lectures and classes at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He has built two telescopes, and is inspired by inventor, engineer and philosopher Buckminster Fuller.
In the 1990s, Marc co-founded the group Tunnels with world renowned fretless bassist pioneer Percy Jones, releasing five critically acclaimed CDs from 1994 to 2006.
After the first CD release of Tunnels, Marc joined a reunion of the legendary English band Brand X and recorded the CD ‘Manifest Destiny’ with the group, which was released in 1997.
In 2001 Marc paired with one of the world’s most famous rhythm sections, Mike Clark and Paul Jackson (Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters), to create ‘Conjunction’, an album rooted in traditional funk that takes the jazz-fusion style towards a new musical horizon.
With these ensembles Marc toured extensively in the U.S. Europe, Japan and Brazil.
In 1997, Marc founded Buckyball Music, Inc., a company based in New York City that is dedicated to building a community for musicians by offering teaching, performing, recording and video services.
His interest in electronics has led him to push the boundaries of live performance with the electronic vibraphone, a sampled-based, ‘midi’ electronic percussion instrument, where he is recognized as a pioneer of this instrument. In his latest recording, ‘Earth is a Cruel Master’, Marc took on performing the lion’s share of the instrumentation, mallets, drums and keyboards. Marc also produced and engineered several recordings for singer Sarah Pillow and drummer Mike Clark, among others.
As an educator, Marc has been teaching students of all ages for over 20 years. He ran several workshops on improvisation at the EJMA jazz school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and is the percussion and music technology teacher at The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in New York City. He has done beta testing for the screen reader VoiceOver, which is part of the Mac OS system, and is very involved in making computers accessible to visually impaired musicians. Marc is in the finishing stages of an iBook teaching method for group percussion classes, which does not involve any need for previous knowledge of music technique. This is based on group dynamics, and by starting with simple concepts by singing the various drum strokes and polyrhythms, which allows the group to attain a level of complexity that would normally demand longer preparation.
Since 2007, Marc has been a co-creator of the transmedia project Perpetual Motion. The project is divided between different periods in history, and is a combination of narration, period music and video that dovetails the coinciding discoveries in science and music. Two touring programs, one centering on Nicolaus Copernicus and the other around Galileo Galilei, feature as narrator the best-selling science writer Dava Sobel. Her storytelling is accompanied by the avant-garde music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods by the early music ensemble Galileo’s Daughters, and images, animation and video that Marc has created and mixes ‘live’ during each performance. Perpetual Motion has been performed at several music festivals, universities, and special gatherings of the science community in the United States and Canada.