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Chamber Works

(click title or scroll down for info/media)

Surfaces and Essences for saxophone quartet (2017)
Written for the Prism Saxophone Quartet

Decade Zero for brass quintet and computer (2016)
Written for the Western Brass Quintet

Displaced for cello, bass, harp, piano, and computer (2016)
written for Ensemble Dal Niente

A Letter to the Moon for trumpet, prepared piano, percussion, and computer (2016)
written for SPLICE Ensemble

Incommensurable for clarinet, horn, and computer (2013)
written for Brad Wong and Lin Foulk

Fractures of Echoes for 2 soprano saxophones, 2 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 tuba, 5.1 audio, and video (2013)
written for the 100th Anniversary of the Western Michigan University School of Music

Biodiversity for flute, cello, piano, two percussion, and two computers (2013)
written for Birds on a Wire

Mindreaders for flute, clarinet, and computer (2010)
written for Sophia Tegart and Gabrielle Bafoni

Bioluminescence for flute, clarinet, piano, and audiovisual media (2010)
written for Quadrivium

Patriot Missile for two pianos and digital audio (2009)
written for the Pangea Piano Project

Special Anxieties for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion (2006)

 

 

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Surfaces and Essences

ABOUT

Surfaces and Essences was written for and is dedicated to the Prism Quartet. The work is inspired by the book “Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking” by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. 

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Decade zero

for brass quintet and computer

ABOUT: Available on Decade Zero

Decade zero for brass quintet and computer was written for and is dedicated to the Western Brass Quartet. The term “Decade Zero” refers to the point in human history when humans can either deal with climate change or deal with the imminent irrevocable changes to the planet. The piece has a narrative arc that represents a struggle of environmental activists and climate scientists to demonstrate the necessity of change and to propose sustainable practices. In general, the trumpets represent scientific assessments and proposals and the horn, trombone, and tuba celebrate environmental beauty and warn of potential destruction with lyrical melodic phrases and chorales. IN the abstract narrative, these forces fight catastrophe, which is portrayed as rising ocean levels by increasingly loud and distorted water sounds. The audio signals of each instrument are captured and manipulated in real time. Additionally, the pitch and volume of each instrument is tracked and impacts synthesized sounds and real time processing in the electronics. The vast majority of the electronic sounds, including the water sounds, are completely dependent on the instrumental performance. In this manner, the electronics depict the outcomes of various human activities.


SCORE


about the technology

The electronics are primarily live electronics that are advanced by a person who runs the technology. One microphone, preferably a clip on microphone, is required for each instrument. The pitch and amplitude of the live instruments control many aspects of the live processing.

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Displaced

for cello, double bass, harp, piano, and computer

ABOUT

Displaced was written for and is dedicated to Ensemble Dal Niente. The work reflects on the current refugee crisis and the increase in refugees that will result due to climate instability.


SCORE


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about the technology

There are approximately 190 fixed media files that are triggered with MIDI or keyboard input. There is a rehearsal mode to rehearse at slower tempi. The fixed media triggering method and cue system were developed by Samuel Wells and Christopher Biggs as part of a set Javascript utilities developed for Max 7.  

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A Letter to the Moon

for trumpet, piano, percussion, and computer

ABOUT: Available on Decade Zero

A Letter to the Moon was written for and is dedicated to the SPLICE Ensemble. The work draws inspiration from the The Distance to the Moon short story that is part of Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics.” In the story the characters have an interdependency with the moon: they harvest materials from the moon when it is close enough. However, their situation changes as the moon’s orbit widens and it moves further from the earth. When this happens their actions no longer map to the same outcomes and they have no power to control the changing orbit. Additionally, some characters have undisclosed plans that further disrupt the normal flow of events. Musically the electronic processing represents the changing context in which the characters in the story exist: the actions of the performers have a variety of variably-predictable outcomes and the performers are not in control of those outcomes directly. The work is in two large sections. The second section is more action oriented and relates to the point in Calvino’s story when the characters are not able to return from the moon as intended.


SCORE


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about the technology

The electronics are primarily live electronics that are advanced with a foot pedal. The percussionist triggers drum sounds with a drum pad or other MIDI device. The work can be performed in stereo, quad, or six channels. 

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Incommensurable

for clarinet, horn, and computer

ABOUT

Incommensurable was created with support provided by the Kalamazoo Artistic Development Intuitive, a program of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo

The work abstractly represents the struggle of modern physics to reconcile Einstein’s theories of relativity, which describes the behaviors of gravity and large objects, with quantum mechanics, which describes the behavior of microscopic elements. The horn part represents aspects of general relativity and the clarinet part represents quantum mechanics.  The live electronics resonate, extend, and vary the instrumental material in ways that also reflect elements of the two theories.  The video provides an additional layer of abstract representation and is controlled by the instrumental performers.   In the first movement, Observation, the horn and clarinet material represents each theory and each performer has freedom to improvise. In the second movement, Combination, the horn and clarinet material is put within various systems that unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the two parts.


SCORE


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about the technology

This work features live audio processing and real time visuals. The playback and manipulation of pre-rendered video files is controlled by the clarinet and horn performance. The videos were created in the Processing language and edited in AfterEffects.

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Biodiversity

for piano computer

ABOUT

Biodiversity was created with the generous support of the “A & D Issa Music and Dance Faculty Award.” The work abstractly reflects on biodiversity and human interactions with the environment that support or threaten biodiversity.  

 

The focus of the work progresses non-linearly; however, as the work evolves it tends to move from representing negative human behaviors and a lack of diversity to depicting positive human behaviors and a wealth of diversity.  The work is organized in three movements, each of which culminates in a section that represents one type of biodiversity.  The digital audio consists of both live processing of the instrumental sounds and sound file triggering.  The digital audio represents the environment in which the human instrumentalists exist, and it either depicts environmental reactions (consequences) of human action or provides a layer of sound that reinforces the extra-musical content of the section.     The digital video operates similarly; it both reinforces extra-musical content and interacts with the performers.   As the work progresses the video work is increasingly created by other artists or in collaboration with other artists, in order to reflect increased diversity.   


SCORE

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Mindreaders

for flute, clarinet, and computer

ABOUT

Mindreaders was written in 2010 in response to a request for a new composition by flutist Sophia Tegart and clarinetist Gabrielle Baffoni.  The piece is a series of seven variations on the chant “Alleuia Pascha Nostrum.”  

The work explores a nebulous nexus between phenomenological mindreading, semiotics, musical representation, and non-attributable, hidden processes; the first three of which can be considered non-verbal forms of communication.  Phenomenological mindreading refers to the ability of humans to attribute mental states to others based on their interpretations of others’ facial expressions and gestures.  Semiotics is the study of signs and signification.  Many people consider music a language that communicates something—to foster the possibility of representationalism in music this work is based on a pre-existent work that had its own sociological functions and has its own connotations.

 

In this work each of the seven sections explores facets of a particular emotional state.  Before the performance each instrumental performer chooses an object that s/he associates with each emotional state indicated in the score and presents those objects prior to each section during performance.  Simultaneously the music and video present other interpretations of the indicated emotional state.  This creates a multifaceted process of abstract signification, which, depending on any individual’s interpretation of any of these stimuli, will have contradictory and/or congruent features.  The hidden processes refer to the live sound-file playback coordinated by the computer performer.  The computer part presents an additional layer of signification. 


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BIOLUMinescence

for flute, clarinet, piano and fixed media

ABOUT

Bioluminescence abstractly reflects on various ocean phenomena; particularly bioluminescence—light produced from living creatures.  Other concepts are incorporated also; such as happy dolphins, anglar coitus, bait balls, and a lake at the bottom of the ocean.  The fixed media part consists primarily of samples from water and electrical sounds. 

The video is constructed from footage my wife and I took at the New Jersey shore. Bioluminesence was written for a commission that accompanied a 2009 SEAMUS/ASCAP student award.  


SCORE

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Patriot Missile

for two pianos and fixed media

ABOUT

This work reflects abstractly on concepts and events described in journalist Robert Fisk’s book “The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.” The generally humorous titles of the movements relate to the content of each movement and provide a contrast to the serious subject matter.  This work was commissioned by and is dedicated to Ya-Ting Liou and Blas González who comprise the Pangea Piano Project.