|This page contains audio excerpts and complete recordings of some of my compositions.
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The Brain Abhors The New for percussion quartet and live processing
“The brain abhors the new” is a quote from author Jonah Lehrer spoken during an episode of WNYC’s Radiolab (which can be found as a podcast online at www.radiolab.org). Lehrer is the author of several books, including “Proust was a Neuroscientist”, about the nature and science of creativity. He made the comment during the episode titled “Musical Language” in which the first performances of Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring were being discussed. One of the hosts of the program, Robert Krulwich, was summarizing the idea that the neurons in our brains seem to “prefer” familiar patterns. Krulwich went on to say that the audience for the first performance of The Rite was expecting something very different than what they received, and therefore, their neurons revolted causing great emotional stress which led to the now-infamous riot at the premiere. Lehrer then added, “the brain abhors the new”. My piece juxtaposes the percussion ensemble against the electro-acoustics both literally and figuratively. Ensemble sounds from the microphones on stage are sent to a computer, the “brain”, and are processed and reorganized before being sent to the two loudspeakers positioned behind the audience. The computer program attempts to “organize” and “arrange” what it is hearing. The result is a unique and immersive experience. Download the MP3
Drum Corpse for four snare drums
Drum Corpse riffs on typical Drum Line constructs (or my perception of typical Drum Line constructs) such as conformity, polyrhythm, and syncopation. The piece deliberately juxtaposes “conflicting” musical ideas with often chaotic results. Imagine a quadrangle in late summer filled with Drum Line sectionals. The first part of the piece sounds disjunct, yet remains in time. The middle section has a clear pulse, but a very odd time signature. The final section is a loose combination of ideas presented in the first two. The piece was premiered by various percussion educators and students at the 2010 West Virginia Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion at West Liberty University. This performance was given at the West Fork New Music Festival in September 2015 by the West Liberty University Percussion Ensemble.
Fragile Space for piano quintet
Commissioned by Illinois Wesleyan University in celebration of the School of Music’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, 2014-15. The commission specified that the piece be a “response” to the 4th movement of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet. At the premiere, Fragile Space was performed, along with two other commissioned works, immediately following a performance of the Schubert. Fragile Space stands on its own and does not require a concurrent performance of Schubert’s piece.
|Gyil and Electroacoustic Sound|
Program Notes: “Power” was commissioned by my friend Mike Vercelli, Director of World Music at West Virginia University. Mike and I traveled to Ghana, West Africa in 1998 and some local children started calling him “Power Mike” after seeing his long red hair. Music is inherently powerful and to perform music is to display power. From a cultural perspective, I wanted to combine Ghanian musical power with the power of modern electronic dance music (EDM). The electronics were organized/created with Max and Logic and include sampled gyil, recordings of analog synthesizers, virtual analog synthesizers, stock loops, and other processed recordings.
Download the Score
Six By Six
In Metal – excerpt
Program Note: In Metal is an immersive 2-channel or 8-channel electroacoustic piece created using sounds inspired by and derived from metal. The piece begins with clanging gongs and finger cymbals followed by the journey inside the metal objects themselves. Once inside, the metallic universe is explored. In Metal was created with Max and Logic.
|Alto Saxophone and Electroacoustic Sound|
Carrier for alto saxophone and electronic sound is titled after an aspect of Frequency Modulation Synthesis, aka “FM” Synthesis. At its most basic level, FM synthesis is accomplished by modulating the frequency of one signal, the “carrier”, with the frequency of another, the “control”. For example, a carrier signal at 440 Hz (the A above middle C on the piano keyboard) could be set to fluctuate up and down once per second if the control signal were 1 Hz. When the control signal is higher than 20 Hz, the resulting sound becomes extremely complex – much more than the sum of its parts. I used FM synthesizers to compose the electronic sound for Carrier, but the piece is really centered on the dialog between the real and the virtual, and how each can carry the other.
uPhone for four performers, four-channel “surround” audio system, and computer
Each wielding an active cellular phone, the performers make and receive calls from one another. Every sound becomes fodder for computer processing. The sounds envelop the audience to the point where it is nearly impossible to tell the real from the processed. The players’ (sometimes futile) attempts to communicate with one another are the content of the piece. The performers orchestrate the piece by assigning unique ringtones to one another and reciting short quotes during each phone call. Download the Score for uPhone
Shared Buffer example
An example of the use of Shared Buffers from the Software page. I am interested in the “live recycling” of sound for live performance. The notes at the beginning are performed, recorded, looped, and then sampled in real time. The “Shared Buffer” Max For Live patches can be downloaded from the Software page.
Light It Up
|music for promotional video for West Liberty University’s first night football game, 10-31-13| http://vimeo.com/75625234
With A Bang (excerpt)
|Snare Drum and Live Electronics (MaxMSP)|
A Memory (excerpt)
Fantasy on victorious known triads
|written in 2010 for my sister Valerie’s wedding|
|installed 2006, West Liberty University Faculty Art Showcase|
About the installation: An immersive aural environment which consists of snippets of familiar music in altered and unaltered forms swirling around the room via an 8-channel audio surround system. The snippets are some of the same “classics” (operatic, symphonic, rock, pop, etc) used by the modern American media for commercials, movies, background music, etc. As they move around the room, they mingle with other synthesized sounds to create a dense, flowing texture. The resulting environment is meant to be a “safe haven” for these mistreated sounds – a place to live in harmony with themselves, away from modern media’s corrupting influence.
|alto saxophone and vibraphone|
|clarinet and piano|
|Electroacoustic. Created with MaxMSP|
|English horn and alto flute|
Skies of Couple Color
|flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, piano|
performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony