Michael Vorfeld is a sound and visual artist based in Berlin, Germany. His installations generally focus on the spatialization of light, using minimalist architecture and sound design to attain pure, crystalline shapes. His music is centered on his use of bowed cymbals and homemade string instruments to create shimmering, microtonal music rich in overtones. He has performed in Europe, Japan, and America solo or with other improvisers and occasionally dancers. His work has been documented mainly by the German label NURNICHTNUR, but also on Hybrid, AufRhur, X-Tract, and Trente Oiseaux.
Vorfeld (born in 1956) began playing music at age 14 when he bought a pair of bongos. His interest in percussion started in rock with the usual teen groups in high school. He later turned to experimental and improvised music. In the 1980s, he participated in the interdisciplinary collective Heinrich Mucken (which also included artists like Claus van Bebber, Helmut Lemke, and Dieter Schlensog, who would all become household names for the label NURNICHTNUR). With the group, he developed site-specific projects that included music, but also visual art. In order to explore this second dimension, he studied in Cologne and Kassel, earning an M.A. in visual communication.
For a while, he focused on his career in visual arts, exhibiting all around Europe. He forged his new percussion language as an extension of it. His first major recording, Klimazonen, came out in 1991. The 1995 CD Sieben Freunde featured what would become his main direction as it blends bowed cymbals and string instruments (the latter sharing a resemblance with Stephan Froleyks' haunting stringed tub). This latter opus attracted some attention. Breaking out of the installation/sound art frame, Vorfeld resumed live group interaction, playing in duos and trios with German artists like guitarist Hans Tammen and percussionists Wolfgang Schliemann and Burkhard Beins, and later with Americans such as instrument designer Lou Mallozzi and double reedist Robbie Hunsinger. He also appeared on Martin Speicher's project Erdtöne: Notation des Lots and performed in Mux Trio and Vestige Vertical. He released Au Défaut du Silence with Reinhold Friedl in late 2001, the first album of acoustic music on the lowercase music label Trente Oiseaux.