Iomramh, for three groups of soundmakers, using watercolor paper, hand drums, stones, and bowing wood and metal, 2019.
Commissioned by Pedro Carneiro for members of Jovem Orquestra Portuguesa. Premiered by JOP on May 26, 2019.
Performed and recorded at the 2019 Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar by Christopher Goulet, Austin Keck, Mason Lee, Austin Taylor Smith, Nicholas Wright, Ruyi Yuan, Leon Zajimovic, and myself.
A voyage taken by rowing out onto the sea, and what you might find afterwards. Two major references are Stephen James Smith’s 2017 poem of the same name, and Seamus Heaney’s 1969 The Given Note.
“You can go so far and it’s never enough.”
Scribner's Song, for eight musicians, bowing crotales, and bending and bowing sheet metal prepared with transducers, 2017.
Commissioned by the 2017 Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar, and performed by Kays Ishaq, Paul Kasperitis, Carla Lackey, Chris Leich, Darren Long, Danielle Morales, Kazuomi Motoike, and Joe Pazanowski. Premiered at Chosen Vale on July 7, 2017.
Testing sounds for this piece I ran across video of an interview with Tom Scribner, who, at the time of filming, was a busking musical saw player in Santa Cruz. Later I found out he was a logger in the Pacific Northwest, a Joe Hill-era IWW organizer, and a prolific writer, underground publisher, and advocate for worker's rights. Invoking his name seemed to be a mid-2017 way to talk about a lot of things at once.
Keening, for violin, percussion, and electronics, 2016.
Commissioned by Erik Carlson and Greg Stuart, and premiered at the University of California-San Diego on December 9, 2016.
One, two, or three static sounds play follow-the-leader in interaction with similar electronic sounds routed through hanging sheets of heavy watercolor paper prepared with transducers. Very grey.
A Given Note, for brass ensemble and electronics, 2016.
Commissioned by Ed Carroll and New Millennium Brass, and premiered at Wild Beast, CalArts, on December 3, 2016.
Folk tradition in the Blasket Islands of western Ireland holds that a person who takes to the water might find the skin hull of their boat vibrating with whale sounds, or, rarer still, songs from the faeries, which could be brought back home by a sharp listener. The musicians listen carefully to, and mimic, elements of their surroundings, including breath and air sound, the pitched scraping sounds of several hand drums, and snippets of a faraway tune.
Currach, for violin and viola with electronics, 2016.
Commissioned by Wendy Richman and Erik Carlson, who premiered the piece at the International Contemporary Ensemble's OpenICE 2016 Launch Concert, Abrons Art Center, New York, September 16, 2016.
A second piece drawing on the idea of catching the sounds from the atmosphere or coming up through the hull of your boat. There seems a similar working method among those of us who improvise and work with sound: always chasing after glimpses of interest in otherwise ephemeral detail. It seemed a good starting point in working with Wendy and Erik.
Breathing Box, for six wood block players and electronics, 2016.
Commissioned by the 2016 Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar, and performed by Evan Miller, Caleb Evans, Christina Hurlbut, Nicholas Samuel, Andrew Seivert, and John Smigelski. Premiered at Chosen Vale on July 8, 2016.
The performers find rich pitched and aspirant sounds by bowing and blowing each wood block across the slot, and this sound interacts with similar material arranged electronically via speaker objects assembled from small transducers and cigar boxes. The recording takes advantage of the extraordinary resonant acoustic of the Stone Mill at the Enfield Shaker Museum, made early on a Sunday morning during a rainstorm.
A Fable, for any number of musicians and field recordings, 2016.
Commissioned by the Dartmouth Contemporary Music Lab, and premiered by its students on May 23, 2016.
An ensemble's members individually assemble environmental recordings taken in locations that hold sonic or emotional resonance, and these are collaged with acoustic sound by intuitive or improvised means. As in a fable, the resultant music cannot be deconstructed or analyzed except by the rules of its own emergent logic.
Gryllidae, for eight clave players and electronics, 2015.
Commissioned by the 2015 Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar, and performed by Tim Feeney, Cameron Leach, Rose Martin, Charlie Mogen, Shelly Purdy, Kevin Rank, Neil Rao, and Brandon Wong. Premiered at Chosen Vale on July 10, 2015.
"Gryllidae" is the family name for crickets, and the piece imitates the sound of a nighttime pond. The performers' live sounds interact with prerecorded clave sound and field recordings of insects and spring peeper frogs, arranged around the audience via speaker objects assembled from small transducers and mason jars.
Things I Said I'd Never Be, for solo performer with sounding objects, transducers, and field recordings, 2014.
Commissioned by Aaron Levy, Aaron Michael Butler, Clara Warnaar, Robby Bowen, and Sean Harvey. Premiered by Aaron Michael Butler at Downtown Books and News, Asheville, NC, December 3, 2014.
A solo performer assembles materials to collage: continuous and detailed sounds pulled from an acoustic sound source; these same sounds recorded and played back through two or more resonant objects prepared with transducers; and environmental recordings made in two locations that carry strong positive or negative charge.
Glossolalia, for six snare drums, 2014.
Commissioned by the 2014 Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar, and performed by David Irving, Mike Mazzullo, Austin Lemmons, Logan Ball, Aaron Levy, and Brandon Ilaw. Premiered at Chosen Vale on July 5, 2014.
Glossolalia refers to speaking in tongues, and the musicians imitate this unpredictable speech-melody by playing irregular nesting rhythms that interlock and interfere to build an accidental sound stream. This sound activates the resonant frequencies of its acoustic space, and the premiere took advantage of the reverberant nature of the chapel at the Enfield Shaker Museum.
Still Life, for four prepared snare drums, 2012.
Commissioned by the Kraken Quartet: Chris Demetriou, Andrew Dobos, Taylor Eddinger, and Sean Harvey. Premiered at Ithaca College, April 12, 2013.
The four musicians scrape, rub, and strike their instruments in generating four scenes of evolving soundscape. Each player follows written instructions suggesting when to enter and how to listen, and the quartet recorded four realizations of the piece, each stretching the limits of these instructions farther and farther.
Scores and electronic performance materials available by request.