String Quartet: Reprise
This piece celebrates a very happy development in my life. I now have the luxury of being married to my best critic and fan. On our honeymoon in Mexico I heard a roving musician sing a song ("La Bikina") that got stuck in my ear. I then envisioned a string quartet in which this delightful little tune (as I imperfectly recalled it) would weave it's way in and out. This string quartet hearkens back to some of my earlier styles and compositional approaches; but it also continually recapitulates its own thematic material. For this reason I've given it the title Reprise.
Though it is conceived as one continuous movement, there are breaks (indicated by double bar lines) which separate it into three sections. The length of these pauses or breaks is at the will of the performers. The duration of the work is approximately 16 minutes.
And the Name of the Star was Wormwood (excerpts from live performance by SoundOn)
Lisa Cella, flute/piccolo; Robert Zelickman, clarinet/bass clarinet; Mark Menzies, violin; Franklin Cox, cello; Sean Dowgray, vibraphone; Christopher Adler, piano; Colin McAllister, guitar; Eric Simonson, conductor
Vision 4 (score pdf)
for piano, live electronics and electro-acoustic sounds
Vision 4 (live performance of 1/6/2016, SoundOn festival, composer as soloist)
Quilting Bee from Ann and Abe (score pdf)
Quilting Bee (mp3-computer generated version, featuring wave guide instruments)
Synth Kit Music (2014) for 8-channel cubic fixed media
After acquiring my PAiA 9700 series modular synthesizer kit and assembling it (learning some very valuable soldering skills in the process), I was anxious to see what kind of sound world could be created with it. Not being content with quadrophonic, I embarked on my first adventure in 8-channel cubic spatialization. The version below, alas, is 2-channel.
Imaginary Cavern Study No. 2 (2012) for 4-channel fixed media
This is the second in a series of 4-channel pieces that combine pure electronic sounds (additive synthesis) with pre-recorded materials. In this case, open air sounds of oil wells pumping, walking through dry grass, and stumbling over a sheet of corrugated tin are subjected to fragmentation and transposition. Additive synthesis instruments using FFT snapshots of these sounds attempt a more conventional “musical” commentary on the proceedings, albeit in an unconventional 15-tone equal temperament. The link below is to a 2-channel version.
Wii Games (2011) for Wiimote controller, electro-acoustic sounds and orchestra, commissioned by the Danville Symphony Orchestra
Tambo and Bones Revisited (2010) for 4-channel fixed media
This is a work which visits with the American minstrel show in such a way that sounds from the minstrel show (tambourine, "bones," banjo, concertina, trombone, and fragments of an old recording) are heard to engage in a free fantasy. Along the way, different degrees of synthetic-ness are explored and exploited. The link below is to a 2-channel version.
2 Pictures (2012) for orchestra
Both of these "pictures" take as their starting point quotations of great composers of the past. But these quotations are not well-known ones but are transitional music, perhaps the kind that would be known mainly by those who play and practice the music. In fact, the first picture could be thought of as the musings over a passage from the Hammerklavier sonata of Beethoven which the piano student is practicing but has taken a break from so as simply to enjoy the sounds, the harmonic trace of the sounds, much the way one might enjoy looking at trees in a forest. And, alas, he goes back to his practicing, but only briefly.
The second picture begins abruptly with an explicit quotation from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, the 5th movement. As in traditional "rondo" forms, there is a central refrain, with Markhov processes extending the material of the quotation. Also, as would be expected in a traditional rondo, there are episodes which contrast, both musically and emotionally. Some of these episodes feature the central material in a microtonally distorted form, with not just the pitch contours altered but the metric structure stretched out. Rather than a transformation of the refrain into something climactic, there is a constant driving of it to the point of exhaustion.