Dan Cosley is a composer, guitarist, and author.
Born in the United States in 1979, he now lives in Kyoto, Japan.
Cosley has published original work with Canadian publisher Les Productions d’OZ, Gendai, and independently.
The Guitar Ensemble Association of Japan commissioned the substantial Waltz Triptych for guitar quartet, a work that has had multiple performances in Japan since its première in 2010.
Other works include various pieces for solo guitar, guitar ensemble, various chamber ensembles, and orchestra.
Cosley premièred his Concerto for Guitar in Denver, Colorado, in 2005.
Multiple jazz & free-improvisational works have followed, including many rock-influenced works for electric guitar, bass, and drums.
Cosley’s recordings span several genres, including classical (Bach, Villa-Lobos), jazz (Mingus, Ellington), prog & math rock, and free-improvisation.
Notable collaborations include duos with guitarist-composer Nathan Kolosko, session work for producer Michael Hoppé, head of A&R for PolyGram Records (Vangelis, The Who, ABBA), and cinematographer/trumpeter Christopher Fryman.
Cosley has published arrangements of diverse composers such as Bartók, Beethoven, Ellington, and Monteverdi, with Canadian publisher Les Productions d’OZ, and Japanese publisher Gendai Guitar.
His groundbreaking solo electric guitar arrangements of the music of Charles Mingus have been met with considerable acclaim.
In 2016, Oregon Koto Kai, one of America’s top Japanese music ensembles, commissioned Deep River, a trio for two 13-string kotos and 21-string bass koto. The ensemble premièred the piece at Portland State University during their 5th Anniversary Gala concert.
For two years, he served as staff engraver and editor of masses, motets, and Gregorian chant for the world’s largest Catholic publisher, Oregon Catholic Press.
A seasoned performer, Cosley has premièred works by the world’s leading classical guitar composers, including Roland Dyens, Stephen Goss, Atanas Ourkouzounov, and Gilbert Biberian.
He made his European debut at the Rome Festival (Italy) in 2000, at the age of 21, performing the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos and Joaquín Turina.
Other notable performances include appearances at the Up-Close Avant series (Denver, Colorado), and the Shonai International Guitar Festival (Japan).
In 2013, the legendary luthier Robert Ruck selected Dan to demonstrate two new instruments in a solo concert at Marylhurst University.
He has performed with many artists outside of the classical domain, including Norihiko Hibino, Samm Bennett, Mike Rivett, and Chris Broderick.
An expert on classical guitar technique and repertoire, as well as jazz improvisation, Cosley has successfully prepared students to attend top institutions such as the Berklee College of Music.
His numerous pedagogical publications have garnered international recognition and have been adopted by teachers and students across the globe.
Three intensive years as teaching assistant to renowned pedagogue Ricardo Iznaola strongly influenced Dan’s teaching and learning approach.
For three years, he served as Professor of Music at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon, where he taught courses on classical and jazz guitar, orchestration, guitar ensemble, notation, and composition.
He also founded the university’s improvisation festival, organizing a concert and free-improvisation masterclass with guitarist Marc Ribot.
While living in Portland, he also served as conductor of the Portland Community College Chamber Ensemble and was also a member of the guitar, composition, and theory faculty.
In 2017, following the closure of Marylhurst University, Cosley took leave from academia and relocated to Kyoto, Japan, to intensify his composition and performance activities and establish wayoftheguitar.com, a comprehensive online training system for fretboard harmony, aural skills, and improvisation.
Cosley received a dual Master’s degree in classical guitar performance and composition from the Lamont School at the University of Denver, where he studied classical guitar performance with Ricardo Iznaola and Jonathan Leathwood, and composition with Samuel Adler.
While at Lamont, Cosley became the first guitarist in the conservatory’s history to win first prize in the school’s concerto competition, as well as the first student to début an original concerto on a graduate recital. He was the second recipient (after Jonathan Leathwood) of the Ricardo Iznaola Scholarship, and the Graduate Recital of Distinction award, among many of the school’s other top honors.
Cosley is fortunate to have been mentored by a number of leading musicians, including saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell (Art Ensemble of Chicago), guitarists Leo Kottke, Marc Ribot, and Roland Dyens, and multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood (Frank Zappa).
“Dan Cosley is a real, gifted musician with genuine skills as a composer. He belongs to a restricted community of guitarists who place music even above the guitar, and that’s the main reason why I believe in him.” – Roland Dyens
“Cosley has all the stuff.” – Marc Ribot
“Exceptional qualities as a performer, scholar, and human being… Cosley is also a very talented and accomplished composer and improviser.” – Ricardo Iznaola
Dan Cosley is an internationally-distinguished guitarist, composer, improviser, arranger, and author
• Dual Master’s degree in Classical Guitar Performance & Composition, Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Studied guitar primarily with Ricardo Iznaola and Jonathan Leathwood, and also with Masakazu Ito. Studied composition with Samuel Adler, William Hill, and Ricardo Iznaola (2005)
• Kyoto Filmmakers Lab, Master’s Session at TOEI studios (2020)
• Composition & performance studies with Samuel Adler, Roland Dyens, and Ian Underwood (Frank Zappa)
• Improvisation & harmony studies with pianist George Colligan (2020)
• Private study with Giuliano Balestra (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia) Rome, Italy (2001)
• Bachelor’s degree in Music, Clarke University. Studied guitar with Jaime Guiscafré and composition with Amy Dunker (2002)
• Masterclasses with numerous artists including cellist Alban Gerhardt (1999-2005)
Compositions, Arrangements, & Publications
• Through The Vanishing Point for large orchestra (2021)
• Kyoto Marimbas (2020)
• Twelve Symphonic Images (2020)
• String Quartet No. 1 (2020)
• Omni-Bach – Volume 1: Violin Partita No. 1 (BWV 1002) Transposed to 12 Keys for Solo Guitar, Amazon (2020)
• Tetrachords (versions for guitar, bass, and flute): A Thesaurus of Four-Note Patterns for Improvisers & Composers, Amazon (2020)
• The Four-Note Chord Compendium: A Permutation-Based Harmony Workbook for Guitarists, Amazon (2019)
• The Three-Note Chord Compendium: A Permutation-Based Harmony Workbook for Guitarists, Amazon (2019)
• THE DROP VOICING BOOK FOR GUITAR: A Complete Guide to Drop 2, Drop 3, Drop 2&3 and Drop 2&4 Chord Voicings & Inversions, Amazon (2019)
• Sea of Trees for two alto saxophones, clarinet, organ, piano, violin, viola, two guitars, trombone, and electric bass. (2016)
• Pavane Op. 50 by Gabriel Faure, arr. for two alto saxophones, clarinet, organ, piano, violin, viola, two guitars, trombone, and electric bass. (2016)
• Deep River for two 13-string kotos and 17-string bass koto. (2016)
• Goodbye Pork Pie Hat and Fables of Faubus by Charlie Mingus (arrangements for solo electric guitar) (2016)
• Pur ti miro from L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi (arrangement for high & low voice with an original guitar continuo) Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2016)
• Scales & Modes for Guitar. Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2015)
• Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll and In A Sentimental Mood (arrangements for three guitars) (2014)
• Trio in C Major Op. 87 by Ludwig van Beethoven (arrangement for three guitars) Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2013)
• Ten Textures: Studies in Reading, Technique, and Harmony. Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2012)
• Waltz Triptych: An Introduction, article. Publisher: Gendai Guitar Magazine (May issue 2011)
• Easy Pieces For Guitar Ensemble Vol. 2, World Famous Songs No. 1, with fellow directors of the Japan Guitar Ensemble Association. Publisher: Gendai Guitar (2011)
• Waltz Triptych for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble. Commissioned by the Guitar Ensemble Association of Japan. Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2010)
• Ensō for guitar duo. Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2009)
• Water Strider for guitar quartet or guitar ensemble. Publisher: Les Productions d’OZ (2008)
• Dark Match for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon (2007)
• Etudes for guitar (2006-2007)
• Concerto for Guitar (2005) (Master’s Thesis)
• Permanent Midnight II for guitar and flute (2004)
• Permanent Midnight for piano (2003)
• Green Sound for solo guitar (2001)
Film & Television Music
• “Kumo”, short film, directed by Minami Goto, TOEI studios
• “Typhoon Girl”, television episode, directed by Ryoma Masumoto
• Through The Vanishing Point (2021)
• Homage to Willie Nelson (2021)
• Burned Out Paradise (with The Missing Ones) (2020)
• Twelve Symphonic Images (2020)
• Short Stories (2020)
• String Quartet No. 1 (2020)
• Ten Short Pieces for Solo Telecaster (2020)
• The B1 Sessions by The Missing Ones (2018)
• Live at UrBANGUILD by Cosmic Fugue (2018)
• Joyo Jazz Trio (2018)
• Cosmic Fugue (with Christopher Fryman) (2018)
• Cosley Plays Charles Mingus (2016)
• The Night Was (2015)
• The Napoleon of Naka-Ita (2015)
• Black Impact, with percussionist Elliott Hasiuk (2013)
• World Folk Songs with Tokyo Guitar Ensemble (Gendai, 2011)
• Ensō, with guitarist Nathan Kolosko (Corda Vuota, 2009)
• Midwestern Hieroglyphs V. 2, The Mandala Duo with violinist Steve Lovinger (2009)
• Midwestern Hieroglyphs V. 1, The Mandala Duo with violinist Steve Lovinger (2008)
• Concerto No.1 for Guitar, live at the Lamont School (by Dan Cosley) (2006)
• The Mandelbrot Set, with violinist Steve Lovinger (2006)
• Many performances in Japan since relocating to Kyoto in 2017 (please see https://dancosley.com/performances/) (2017 – Current)
• Première of “Sea Of Trees” for two alto saxophones, clarinet, organ, piano, violin, viola, two guitars, trombone, and electric bass. Portland Community College (Portland, Oregon 2016)
• Première of “Deep River” for two 13-string kotos and 17-string bass koto. Oregon Koto Kai, led by Mitsuki Dazai. Portland State University. (Portland, Oregon 2016)
• Première of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Fables of Faubus” by Charlie Mingus (arrangements for solo electric guitar) at the Portland Guitar Society (Portland, Oregon 2016)
• Première of “Pur ti miro” from L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi (arrangement for high & low voice with an original guitar continuo) Northwest Art Song Inaugural Series (Portland, Oregon November 2015)
• Première of Ice Muffins, seven original progressive rock pieces for guitar, bass, and drums. Hosted by Creative Music Guild at NO FEST. (Portland, Oregon September 2015)
• Première of Echoland by Dan Cosley at the Portland Classical Guitar Series 10th Anniversary Gala Concert (Portland, Oregon 2014)
• Première of Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll and In A Sentimental Mood with the Marylhurst University Guitar Ensemble (arrangements) (Portland, Oregon 2014)
• Robert Ruck instrument demonstration concert. Performed on two newly-built Ruck guitars by request of the luthier, Robert Ruck. Music by Cosley, Francesco Canova da Milano, & J.S. Bach. NW Musical Instrument Show at Marylhurst University. (Portland, Oregon 2013)
• Trio in C Major Op. 87 by Ludwig van Beethoven with the Marylhurst University Guitar Ensemble (arrangement for three guitars) (Portland, Oregon 2013)
• Première of Ten Textures by Dan Cosley at the Portland Guitar Society (Portland, Oregon 2011)
• Collaborative performances with Samm Bennett, Elliot Hasiuk, and Ryan Mizuno. This and That Cafe 1&3, concert series, Super Deluxe (Tokyo, Japan 2010, 2011)
• Super Deluxe Global Session, concert series, Super Deluxe (Tokyo, Japan 2011)
• Première of Waltz Triptych by Dan Cosley with Ensemble Oz (Tokyo, Japan 2010)
• Shonai International Guitar Festival (Yamagata, Japan 2010)
• Première of Atanas Ourkouzounov’s The Red Elf’s Tale with Tokyo M Group and the composer as conductor (Yamagata, Japan 2010)
• Première of Roland Dyens’ Soleils Levants with Ensemble OZ and the composer as conductor (Tokyo, 2008)
• Performances with Norihiko Hibino and The Outer Rim (Tokyo, 2008)
• Japan Guitar Ensemble Association Gala Concert (Concertmaster for Tokyo Guitar Ensemble, 2008)
• Solo Concerts (Fukuoka, Japan, 2007)
• Up-Close Avant (Concert series organized by Creative Music Works, Denver, 2006)
• En Mis Palabras, an opera by Roger Ames, with the Central City Opera (Toured 2005-2006 season)
• Première of Concerto for Guitar by Dan Cosley (Denver, 2005)
• Graduate Recital of Distinction (Lamont School of Music, Denver, 2005)
• Première of Gilbert Biberian’s Rose Garden (Denver, 2005)
• Première of Jessica Mays’ Suite for Guitar (Denver, 2005)
• Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra with the Lamont Symphony (Denver, 2004)
• Première of Stephen Goss’s Lachrymae (Denver, 2003)
• Solo concerts by invitation of the Rome Festival (Rome, Italy, 2000)
• Adjunct Professor, International Studies, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan
• Adjunct Professor, International Studies, Notre Dame University, Kyoto, Japan
• Founder of http://www.wayoftheguitar.com, an internationally-recognized leader in online guitar, harmony, and improvisation pedagogy.
• Instructor of Music, conductor of PCC Chamber Ensemble, composition instructor, theory instructor, instructor of classical & jazz guitar, Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus (2011-2017)
• Professor of Music, Marylhurst University. Courses: Classical Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Electric Bass, Orchestration 1-3, Guitar Skills for Music Therapists 1-2, Guitar Ensemble, Music Notation: Theory and Practice, Composition Seminar, and Performance Seminar (2012-2015)
• Clinical Guitar Techniques, a seminar for the American Music Therapy Association, Oregon State Mental Hospital, Salem (2015)
• Music theory instructor, And Vision Music School, Tokyo, Japan (2009-2010)
• Public high-school English teacher in Fukuoka, Japan. Hired via the Japanese government program JET (2006-2007)
• Graduate teaching assistant to Ricardo Iznaola, University of Denver (2002-2005)
• Graduate teaching assistantships in music history, jazz, and classical guitar, University of Denver (2002-2005)
• Ricardo Iznaola Scholarship (2005)
• Graduate Recital of Distinction, Lamont School of Music (2005)
• Awarded lifetime membership to Pi Kappa Lambda (2005)
• Lamont Conservatory Concerto Competition, First Prize Winner (2003-2004)
• Walter & Kathryn Dunham Fine Arts Award, Clarke University (2002)
• Virginia Gaume Music Award for Excellence in Performance, Clarke University (2002)
• Eliza Kelly Music Award for Academic Excellence, Clarke University (2002)
• Won international audition and scholarship for participation in Rome Festival (2001)
Curation, Organization & Promotion
• Co-founder (with Christopher Fryman) of Cosmic Fugue, weekly workshop series on jazz and modern classical improvisation, Kyoto, Japan (2017 – 2019)
• Classical Revolution PDX, Board of Directors (2016)
• Marc Ribot Residency at Marylhurst University. Organizer of Ribot’s Solo Concert, Group Free-Improvisation Workshop, Workshop Orchestra Concert (2015)
• Elected to the board of directors for the Guitar Ensemble Association of Japan, (2009 – present)
• Commercial music composition/recording. Clients include Disney, Comcast, Legacy Health, Room&Board, etc.
• In-house music engraver for Oregon Catholic Press. Numerous publication credits including Journey Songs 3 (2011-2012)
• Marketing intern at the Colorado Symphony (2005)
• CMTE, American Music Therapy Association (2014)
• TEFL certification (150-hours) (2020)
• Japanese language ability: Upper-Intermediate