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Chuck Hammer is an American guitarist and Emmy nominated digital film composer, known for seminal guitar-synth with Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Guitarchitecture.

As an artist, Hammer is best known for his Guitarchitecture recordings, though he is also widely regarded as an influential soundtrack composer, having scored approximately 300 documentary films.

He was born in New York Citymarker.

Hammer toured extensively with Lou Reed from 1978 through 1980.During these concerts Hammer utilized new guitar technology, known as guitar-synth, to orchestrate songs from Berlin, Street Hassle, and The Bells. It was during this time that Hammer developed an approach to composing and recording known as Guitarchitecture.Hammer recorded with Lou Reed on Growing Up in Public, January 1980.

In March 1980, Hammer recorded guitar-synth tracks for David Bowie on the album Scary Monsters , including multiple textures across "Ashes to Ashes" and "Teenage Wildlife", both of which marked the earliest use of guitar-synth in Bowie's catalogue. The actual instruments utilized on these tracks included a Roland GR-500 with an Eventide Harmonizer. Textural tracks such as those on "Ashes to Ashes" exhibited a multi-layered, approach, to recording and composing with the guitar.

Hammer's recorded work is known as Guitarchitecture, a process and term which he developed in 1977.

The underlying thought behind Guitarchitecture is to extend the guitar vocabulary.

Guitarchitecture involves broadening the guitar's vocabulary by altering its temporal characteristics and context. This approach often utilizes extended sustain, reshaped timbres, discreet vibrato techniques, textural event layering, and simply breaking down a chord to its basic elements and recording each element separately (as a modified orchestra). The term Guitarchitecture applies to both Hammer's soundtracks in the digital film medium, as well as his recorded guitar work. Hammer was accorded pioneer status by Rolling Stone magazine, alongside an eclectic and select group, including Robert Fripp and Allan Holdsworth, having been attributed with leading a new era of development in the global guitar community, influencing instrument capabilities, form and functions in music.

In 1983 Hammer began composing film soundtracks with a Synclavier, adding a Digital Guitar Interface in 1984. Later that same year he worked with Laurie Anderson, attempting to trigger synchronized samples, from her Mister Heartbreak multitrack recordings live, utilizing the Digital Guitar Interface. In 1985 he recorded "Glacial Guitars", a series of Guitarchitecture pieces that deploy cello timbres and string controlled sampling. in 1986 Hammer recorded "Cathedral Guitars", a series of solo acoustic pieces. In November 1986 he collaborated with choreographer David Gordon, composing "The Seasons", for the Next Wave Festival, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Hammer utilized a synthaxe as the primary instrument to reshape audio elements while recording this musique concrète piece.

In 1989 Hammer designed AVA studios in New York City, a multi media production facility, that focused on film and television music scoring. Between 1994 and 2004 he composed soundtracks for an extended series of non fiction documentaries; collaborating with National Geographicmarker, Discovery Communications, New York Times, and A&E Network. These soundtracks were widely broadcast and highly influential. In effect, darkening the tone of soundtracks that followed, while merging textural scoring with digital sound design. Additional soundtracks focused on the sonic artifacts of "touch" by combining non-processed guitars with highly processed undertones.

In 2006 Hammer composed the soundtrack for the film Crazy Eights distributed by After Dark and Lionsgate Films.In 2007-2008 he composed the soundtrack for the film The Wreck.He is currently developing a series of Guitarchitecture soundtracks, and a series of live recordings with the improvisational band Jam Underground.

Digital film soundtracks (partial)

Guitarchitecture recordings

  • Glacial Guitars
  • Cathedral Guitars (solo Acoustica 1)
  • Avignon Crosses (solo Acoustica 2)
  • Moonless Night
  • Shelter Curve
  • Arctic Circles


Additional sessions and compilation discography

Appears on:

Additional releases of "Ashes to Ashes"

Appears on:

External links


  • Welch, Chris - David Bowie: We Could Be Heroes (Thunder's Mouth Press) ISBN 1-56025-209-X
  • Bockris, Victor - Transformer: The Lou Reed Story (Simon & Shuster) ISBN 0-684-80366-6
  • Prown, Pete and Newquest, HP - Legends of Rock Guitar (Hal Leonard) ISBN 0-7935-4042-9
  • Boleyn, JR - Far Way to Even (Abernathy & Smyth) ISBN 1-4196-2930-1
  • Clapton, Diana - Lou Reed & The Velvet Underground (Bobcat Books) ISBN 0862760569

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