Opus Palladianum: voice and drums

Winter, 2013

2-channel recording; 7:00

I am fascinated by organizations that consist of contrasting elements. I am interested in the surprise that such juxtapositions create, and the musical forms that result from their statement. I am interested in the musical parameters that contribute to such percepts. The piece explores kinds of contrast, from those that are clear, such as the juxtaposition of opposites (soft, loud), to those that are ambiguous, such as the juxtaposition of synthetic and intimate. Here, one of the main ways that contrast is created is by presenting the voice in a variety of rhythmic, harmonic, and technological settings. Percussion elements are treated similarly, which results in a variety of rhythms, meters and genre references. The piece also explores how one can create unity and connections among such disparate elements through lower-level musical parameters, such as rhythm, timbre and harmony, as well as through higher-level musical associations, such as means of production (acoustic, electronic) and genre. As a result, there is connection despite heterogeneity; there is fluidity despite disruption; there is peace despite agitation; there is continuity despite discontinuity.

Breeding in Pieces

Summer – Fall 2009

2 channel recording

Breeding in pieces combines compositional and production practices from rock and electroacoustic music. The piece creates (dis)continuity and form through higher-level feature (here, genre) contrast. Here, compositional and production practices from rock and electroacoustic music are combined and contrasted to create a diverse set of textures and relationships. As a result, each section of the piece can be represented on a continuum defined by poles of synthesis and preservation. In regard to synthesis, one musical world is filtered through the other from a variety of angles and proportions (and vice versa). In regard to preservation, the piece recognizes that commingling sometimes has the unfortunate by-product of dulled edges. Thus, the piece presents gestures as if in their natural habitats. The extent to which the music preserves these habitats speaks to the gestures themselves as well as the surrounding contexts (that which is implicit in and external to the piece). Almost all of the music is generated from the same progression / theme, creating unity among a diverse group of elements.

…for steps that grow when climbed

Fall 2008 – Winter 2009, rev. 2011

for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, tom-toms, marimba, piano, viola, double bass and electronics; 7:30

for steps that grow when climbed looks at (dis)continuity as syncopation within longer durations. The piece’s structure is characterized by perpetually expanding sections (thus, the title), with each section articulated by a discontinuous moment. At the same time, movement and (dis)continuity are also voiced within sections. As a result, the piece illustrates how multiple continuities can simultaneously occur on different hierarchical levels, which can be interrupted and restarted to create various kinds of discontinuities. One of the ways that the piece achieves these (dis)continuities is by juxtaposing the acoustic ensemble with electronically-processed versions of its gestures. The piece also asks the acoustic ensemble to mimic computer processes, such as algorithmic duration alteration, to further illustrate how human and electronic elements can interact. In this way, the electronic interprets human gestures, and the humans interpret electronic gestures. These moments of synthesis are juxtaposed with moments that are purely acoustic and purely electronic. The result is a variety of relations that are characterized by different distances relative to a continuum defined by the poles of acoustic (human) and electronic (computer).

The Arc of Braided Movement

Fall 2007 – Winter 2008

for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello; 7:00

The piece’s motion is at times analogous to points along a pendular arc; directionally independent vectors occur in a general context of acceleration and deceleration (temporal structure is also exposed to accelerating and decelerating forces). My interest in the oscillation between coordination and dislocation creates a “braiding” of instrumental lines (although sharper juxtaposition is also a device of interest). In terms of the music’s grooves, I find the rhythms physically compelling but “tweaked” enough to sidestep the type of overt periodicity that is typically associated with groove-oriented sound. The formal organization of the piece represents a kind of porous sectionalism where clearly defined moments are strung together by recurring ideas.

Decay to Primitive

Fall 2007

4 channel recording

In my experience, the texture present inspires meditative reflection. Alternatively and / or relatedly, this texture nudges one’s state of consciousness gently enough away from “equilibrium” (that state of consciousness to which one naturally reverts) that one could mistake the texture-induced state for equilibrium after some amount of time. The referencing of “true” equilibrium from the perspective of the texture-induced state creates an interesting perceptual contradiction. I believe this phenomena is enabled by the music’s density. The second section is an augmentation of a single event in the first section, with sonic content exchanged.

Assemblage of Gears

Fall 2006 – Winter 2007

for flute, clarinet, piano, electric guitar and double bass

It seems that the ways in which we have come to work and play have propelled us away from our physicality. I find physical experience can act as a panacea to the frustration of both existential angst and the skeptical approach to the questions of life. Music can be a wonderful conduit for physical experience.

I am interested in rhythmic complexity. I enjoy the tension between coordination and subsequent dislocation of rhythmic events. The potential to create unique textures through the combination of varied superimposition rates is exciting to me. Machines can help with this.

Physicality does not preclude complexity.


ummer – Fall 2005

for guitar and computer; 9:30

The idea for Antiprism was inspired during a session with a percussionist friend of mine in which we were exploring the sounds of traditional instruments played with alternate techniques. At one point, the percussionist began striking a ride cymbal with a soft mallet and at the same time, partially muting the cymbal in different locations with his other hand. The result was a strikingly diverse collection of sounds. The potential latent within this single instrument was immediately revealed to me. It also was apparent how delicate component frequencies are and how easily they are lost in the complex combination of spectra involved in ensemble playing. I decided it was of paramount importance to maintain, or further, amplify the subtle indigenous sounds of the instrument so I decided to create a solo piece. My strategy, in keeping with the ideal of using “organic” sounds, was to separate the frequency spectrum into 8 “buckets” and at the same time, control the temporal expression of these buckets by way of a delay based system. I constructed such a system in Max/MSP and discovered the program had instrumental applications beyond that of the ride cymbal. I am composing a suite of pieces using this program, the one featured here features the electric guitar. The frequency parameters and delay intervals are programmable; much of the timbral and rhythmic content is created as a result of alterations of these inputs. The piece, through this program, purports to explore and reveal the “hidden” sounds that are typically relegated to a complementary role in more common spectral configurations.

Birth of a Machine

Winter – Spring 2005

4 channel recording; 11:30

Birth of a Machine is a story about mechanical soul searching. The first section is a gestation period; a stage for pre-developmental processes. The second section represents the fruition of this development as numerous fully-formed ideas strive for prominence through various cycles of combination and isolation. Musically, rhythm is explored through perpetual tempo change and polytempo in the context of an explicit but fleeting pulse. The majority of the sonic material present was derived from the recordings of a single instrument.


Winter 2005

4 channel recording; 6:22

The idea of the piece is one of stasis; of the avoidance of assertive and dramatic gestures. A small number of sound sournces linked by continuous paths creates a form without distinct segments. The interest lies in the subtleties of this journey voiced by pitch change, timbral difference and rhythmic interaction. The music requests attention in a non-controntational manner; without consideration to detail the meaning will be missed.