Co-composed with Weston Olencki and Matt Barbier.
First Performance by Rage Thormbones and the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) in April 2019 at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.
Fever Dream is a showcase for the Feedback Trombone, an instrument developed by Jeff Snyder in his New Instrument Research Lab, with contributions by Rajeev Erramilli, Michael Mulshine, Matthew Wang, and Nikola Kamcev. This piece uses the second revision of the instrument, which was developed closely with the members of RAGE Thormbones.
- Casting Down the Middle
- (for Long String Instrument and laptop orchestra)
First performance by Ellen Fullman and the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) in November 2018 at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.
The title “Casting Down the Middle” comes from the name of one of the scales in ancient Hurrian music. Hurrian music notation written in cuneiform is the oldest mostly complete music notation that has ever been found – from around 1400BC in an area that is now part of Syria. The piece doesn't actually use a Hurrian scale or theory, as the meaning of the notation system is not completely understood, but I was inspired by the concept.
This piece came out of the exciting opportunity to write a piece for Ellen Fullman and her Long String Instrument invention during her residence at Princeton University in 2018. She is one of my heroes in sound art, improvisation, instrument design, just intonation, and generally being awesome.
- Sunspots 1-9
- (for analog synthesizer, using the JD-1 controller)
- Wave Fanfare
- (for brass sextet, percussion quartet, feedback trombones, and mobile phone orchestra)
First performance by Tilt Brass, So Percussion, and the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) in October 2017 at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.
Wave Fanfare is a collaboration between Jeff Snyder (composer), Axel Killian and Ryan Luke Johns (robotics artists), and Jane Cox (lighting designer). It was created to celebrate the opening of the new Lewis Arts Complex at Princeton University.
Axel Kilian created a robotically controlled pendulum hanging between the three buildings of the Arts Complex, which held a massive stage light to point through the skylight windows and swing back and forth. Ryan Luke Johns built a machine to create waves in the reflecting pool above the skylights. Jane Cox designed the lighting inside the performance space, which followed the cues of the music. Laptop Orchestra members carried portable speakers and used mobile phones as instruments, moving around the audience to spatialize the sound, and each Laptop Orchestra member also wirelessly controlled a single stage light, coordinated with the amplitude of their own sound.
- What if You Echoed Back Everything You Heard and Were Also Hearing Yourself
- (for computer-controlled pipe organ and laptop orchestra)
First performance by Toneburst Laptop Orchestra in March 2017 at the Wesleyan University Chapel in Middleton, CT.
This piece was written for the organ at Wesleyan University and Toneburst Laptop Orchestra. I had the idea of creating a system where the organ could "listen" to itself and then try to play what it heard - a kind of instrumental feedback loop. My original conception for the piece was for the organ and a single performer controlling the stops on the organ to guide the feedback toward different harmonic areas (since the complexity of the timbre ends up creating more complex harmonies in the algorithm I designed). When Paula Matthusen asked me to write for Toneburst, I realized that the piece would be more interesting as a concerto. The work now opens with my original concept, except that the control of the organ stops is distributed throughout the ensemble. Eventually, the electronics performers join with their own versions of the same feedback algorithm - listening and chiming in with what they hear in the room, exploring the sonic space.
Since the piece is generative, and based on feedback, it will be completely different each time.
Rehearsal with Toneburst Laptop Orchestra
Some different versions of the piece. Organ alone, experimenting with the algorithm parameters
- The Earth and the Eye
- (for three bass viols and harpsichord)
First performance by Sonnambula in March 2017 at Taplin Auditorium in Princeton, NJ.
The Earth and the Eye was written for Sonnambula. I was particularly interested in exploring the lower registers of the instruments, and the possible voicings of triadic harmonies within that context. There is a section in the middle that I imagine as a kind of palimpsest, where there is conflicting material within the viols, as though the foreground music has some translucency and other music is partially showing through. While writing the music, I was thinking about the writings of Giordano Bruno, an Italian Renaissance thinker who is part scientist, part philosopher, and part magician. He wrote a text called "On the Composition of Signs, Images, and Ideas" and I was reading the English translation, which was surprisingly edited by the experimental composer and Fluxus artist Dick Higgins. Bruno writes early in the work: "Because the eye sees other things, it does not see itself. Yet what is the nature of the eye that so sees other things as to see itself? It is that sort of eye which sees all things in itself, and which is likewise in all things." This seems to be using the eye as a metaphor for the mind, and suggesting that the mind can not analyze itself impartially. I liked this image, and it fit nicely with the image of the "the Earth and the Eye", which are the two things Bruno places at the center of "the Atrium", a strange geometrical graph that he uses to organize the symbols he discusses. In taking this as my title, I think of the Earth as objective reality, and the Eye as the mind's limited ability to perceive it.
- Fictitious Forces
- (for percussion quartet, with four Drumboxes)
- (for brass ensemble, percussion and electronics)
- (for string quartet and pedal steel guitar)
- Science Fiction Was Wrong About a Lot of Things
- (for iPad orchestra with portable speakers)
- (for chamber orchestra and live analog modular synthesizer through acoustic resonators)
- Percussion II
- (for computer controlled cymbals)