Michael Gordon's compositions demonstrate a singular exploration of rhythm, juxtaposing and overlapping complex patterns to create what has been called "a glorious confusion." His work also employs microtonality and electronic processing, and often draws inspiration from popular culture. Gordon's interest in adding dimensionality to the concert experience has led to frequent collaborations with filmmaker Bill Morrison, including two critically-acclaimed interdisciplinary works: Decasia and Gotham. In Decasia, the audience stands in the middle of a three-tiered, triangular structure surrounded by 55 musicians and large projection scrims. Gotham combines large sonic textures with Morrison's film made from vintage footage of New York City. Gordon's work for musical theater has involved collaboration with directors Richard Foreman and Francois Girard for pieces premiered at the REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles, Oper Aachen, and Next Wave Festival at BAM. His music has been commissioned and/or performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic , Jonathon Nott and the Bamberger Symphony, Kronos Quartet, cellist Maya Beiser, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Resonanz, and Icebreaker, and has been featured by a wide spectrum of dance companies including the Royal Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, Wayne McGregor/Random Dance Company, and Emio Greco/PC. Gordon is also a co-founder of Bang on a Can, an international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music since 1987.
Gordon joined fellow Bang on a Can founders David Lang and Julia Wolfe for a symposium at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in June 2009. The three composers spoke about their work as composers, impresarios, and entrepreneurs, and shared recorded examples of their music. Together, they also curated the first Philadelphia iteration of the Bang on a Can marathon, funded by the Center and presented by FringeArts in September 2010.