Roger Clark Miller grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the son of an icthyologist whose specialty was researching fish that live in isolated springs in the desert and comparing them to their fossil ancestors. Until he was 18, Miller spent part of every summer in the western U.S. deserts on these scientific expeditions. This has had a strong effect on his artistic outlook where the themes of nature, extremes, self-reliance, and a deep sense of time recur in his work. He started piano lessons at age 6, studied French Horn in middle school and picked up guitar at age 13.
In 1969 Miller grasped both improvisation and composition in his founding psychedelic rock band Sproton Layer, formed with his brothers Benjamin and Laurence, and in piano and writing for small chamber ensembles. Miller’s first book, the entire score for Sproton Layer’s album “With Magnetic Fields Disrupted”, was published in 1972 on a Wenner-Gren Anthropological Foundation Grant and was installed in the Library of Congress that year.
After becoming disillusioned with rock music in the mid-’70’s, Miller attended music school as a composition major. A formal introduction to surrealism and music theory still left him wandering, though better prepared for action.
In 1979 he moved to Boston and co-formed Mission of Burma. Since 1980 he has released over 50 albums, ranging from the aggressive avant-punk of Burma to piano-based music of Maximum Electric Piano, The Binary System and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Never content with a single genre, Miller has covered much territory between those two extremes in solo and ensemble endeavors. His work explores the edge of music combined with a physical performing style and a hyper-active imagination.
Miller is also a conceptual/sound artist. His first art installation in this direction, “Transmuting the Prosaic”, was at the BMAC in Brattleboro, VT from March 15 – Oct.12, 2020, and at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH, in from Dec. 2022 – Jan. 2023. As well, he is a visual artist utilizing Max Ernst’s Frottage technique, and has been in numerous shows selling his work.
Currently Miller is active in Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar, The Anvil Orchestra, and The Trinary System, and Chamber Music. On Feb.18, 2016, his composition “Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream” (for two voices and chamber group) premiered in Jordan Hall at The New England Conservatory. It was a commission by N.E.C.’s Callithumpian Consort. In Sept. 2018, Tufts University put on a concert entirely of his chamber music. He has been a journalist/blogger for SLATE, The Huffington Post, a book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, and a record reviewer for The Talk House. Miller is an accomplished sound-track composer whose films have appeared at the Sundance and Telluride Film Festivals. Miller also was guest faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design and visiting artist at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Tufts University (Medford, MA), the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT.