Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 2020

Marshall Trammell

Black and white portrait of Marshall Trammell playing the drums. Bright white light illuminates him from the left.
Photo by Otto Oppi Christiansen.
  • 2020 Grants to Artists
  • Music/Sound
  • Music Research Strategist
  • Born 1972, Oceanside, CA
  • Lives in Oakland, CA
  • Additional Information

This Spring, I founded the Community Self-Defense Archive at Pro Arts Commons in Oakland, CA. The digital repository supports the documentation and Intellectual Property rights of protests artists, unhoused & wageless artists, street protest medics, and other essential respondents to the day’s civil unrest and agitation that capture the World’s attention.

- Marshall Trammell, December 22, 2020

Artist Statement

Music Research Strategies instigates the collection, indexing, and critical redeployment of grassroots, tactical media strategies.


Build cultural competencies in transdisciplinary fields of performance, contemporary Art, and political education practices that enable broader, deeper, and more nuanced intercultural collaboration, communication, and public discourse.

Enhance critical analysis and discourses across cultures and disciplines.


Publish articles in international, bilingual journals establishing both analytical tools for postcolonial discourse and aesthetic performance complex;

Instigate collaborations with community-based, cultural organizations and social justice institutions to deploy cultural research tools and archival systems;

Organize and document campaign tactics to redistribute knowledge, technical capacity, and successful organizational models;

Synthesize conduction data to contribute research, analysis, theory and cultural production towards the production of a dynamic, informed and living conduction system;

Connect knowledge and process outcomes with community development, creative placemaking, public policy, academic and arts and cultural institutions to implement mechanisms of change;

Position Music Research Strategies as a cultural bearer and knowledge broker in the field and a hub for information and resources pertaining to diversity capacity building issues and efforts in the field.

- December 2019


Marshall Trammell is an experimental archivist, percussionist, conductor, and composer. His aesthetics and activism are centered in social change interventions and generate new local and global ecologies that embrace improvisation as a collective, movement-building tool in the creation of post-capitalist imaginaries. Trammell’s work also uses political aesthetic theory, data creation, mapping, and collective music-and-artmaking in order to step out of the domain of traditional cultural institutions, relocating the act of co-production back in the community.

Trammell’s Music Research Strategies is a performing-political education platform for embodied social justice vernacular, organizational strategy, and alternative infrastructure development. Under the auspices of Music Research Strategies, Trammell received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant in 2019 to present the work Towards A Solidarity Economics Conduction System for Improvisers (2019) at Hopscotch Reading Room, Berlin Art University, Berliner Gazette Redaktion, and Dekalb Gallery at Pratt Institute. This project, undertaken with Oakland-based cultural organizer and Pro Arts Gallery and COMMONS Executive Director Natalia Ivanova Mount, was inspired by Trammell’s interest in codes embedded in quilts that may have guided slaves to areas of safety in the Underground Railroad.

He also received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant in 2015 to tour internationally with the band Black Spirituals. Black Spirituals, which consisted of Trammell and collaborator Zachary James Watkins, was a performance project that featured the two soloists improvising in tandem. Drawing on the participants’ backgrounds in composition, sound art, and free music, Black Spirituals aimed to locate itself within a lineage of Black experimental music and improvisatory performance.

Trammell has collaborated with artists including Sharmi Basu, John Brennan, Raven Chacon, India Cooke, John Dietrich, Chris Cogburn, Marisa DeMarco, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Lisa E. Harris, Antoine Hunter, Eileen Kage, John Jang, Dohee Lee, Genny Lim, Robert McGill, Hafez Modirzadeh, Mogauwane Mahloele, Jamal Moore, David Murray, Pauline Oliveros, Laura Ortman, Akira Sakata, Carlos Santistevan, Jawwaad Taylor, Aaron Turner (SIGE), Saul Williams, Hong-Kai Wang, and Francis Wong.

He has been an artist in residence at Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri; Coppermas, Sechelt, Canada; EastSide Cultural Center, Oakland; The Museum of Human Achievement, Austin; Off Lomas, Albuquerque; Prelinger Library, San Francisco; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Rauschenberg Residency; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; and Western Front, Vancouver. He was an Intercultural Leadership Fellow (2018-19). He is affiliated with EastSide Arts Alliance and ProArts COMMONS and is a member of Solidarity Research Center.

A person seated on a colorful wooden high bench playing percussion instruments. Around them on the floor are scattered water bottles and black bags, while behind them a green eraser board has a cirle drawn on it and next to it words and phrases like
Music Research Strategies: What Does A Harm Free Zone Feel Like?, at Southern Exposure, San Francisco, 2019. Photo by Southern Exposure.
A black and white photograph of a person playing the drums and another playing the saxophone.
Performance still from Sakata/Trammell Duo, at No Idea Festival, Austin, TX, 2018. Performers: Akira Sakata and Marshall Trammell. Photo by Chris Cogburn.
Marshall Trammell and Akira Sakata, at No Idea Festival at the Museum of Human Achievement, Austin, TX, 2018.
In the center closest to the viewer, a sitted figure plays various percussion instruments, as on the left a performer flared black pants and shirt moves. On the right cut by the photo three audience members watch the performer.
Performance still from Hong-Kai Wang's "Clair-Audence", at The Lab, San Francisco, CA, 2016. Performers: Dohee Lee and Marshall Trammell. Photo by John Lee.
Close up shot of a seated figure in black sweatpants and orange t-shirt behind drums and other percussion instruments playing them while illuminated by a red light.
Black Spirituals Tour 2014-15, at Komedia, Brighton, England, 2015. Photo by Agatha Urbaniak.
Indexical Moment/um: Burn the Temples/Break Up the Bells - Group #2, at Off Lomas, Albuquerque, NM, 2019.