Thursday, December 31, 2009

a year ends, a new one begins

Although I have not posted in a month and a half, I am not dead, nor have I abandoned this blog. Strangely, I have been very busy, but have little to tell!

PhD applications are practically done (just need to bug my recommenders...and I hate bugging people!). I had a seasonal job as well as my normal one, so lots of work.

2009 has been tough for many of us, but I have a very good feeling about 2010. I'll see you then!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two new videos

I uploaded two new videos today:

This is "Snow Drifts," a track from Late Frost. I used CamStudio to make a video capture of an improvised painting session in ArtRage.

This is an algorithmic music experiment made in Max/MSP. I used a 4x4 magic square to determine various aspects of the music.

Top line = number of "voices" in each section. There are a total of 16 notes in each chord, but most are turned off in the subsequent sections.

Line 2 = Number of chords in each section. Each lasts an equal amount of time within each section. In other words, section 1 lasts 90 seconds, and there are 5 chords, so 90/5 = 18 seconds each.

Line 3 determined the length of each section - I multiplied them by 10 to make the piece longer.

The bottom determines the tempo. Again, this used division - section 1 is 90 seconds, and there are 4 "bars" lasting 22.5 seconds. The notes are all related to this length. The top left happens 16 times within that 22.5 seconds (or every 1.4 seconds), etc. The last section is very slow; if you think about it, it is 2 "beats" per minute!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Applications continued

Thanks to all for your comments. They helped reiterate some of my own opinions about my pieces. So, each school will get a slightly different portfolio (depending on if they focus on electronics, requested only 3 pieces, etc.). They will receive some combination of:

Five Pieces for Laptop Quartet
Three Haiku
Obedience School
Five Movements on Mondrian

Looking over requirements once more, I see I had forgotten that UCSD and U of Chicago request two writing samples. Looks like I will be revising either the Schoenberg paper or Sonic Generator paper. You can read those on my site if you are having trouble falling asleep or something.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CD reviews / Portfolio

Hi readers,

Sorry for the long delay between posts. A lot of non-music work happening around here lately. Anyway, a few updates:

1. My friend Brian Skutle was kind enough to review my CDs. Nice to see what people think of my stuff - as you'll read, it is a fair and relatively unbiased review.

2. I have to take the GRE in 11 days! AAAAH! I shouldn't worry too much - I got a decent score last time (12-something). But I really want to do well, and I keep getting tripped up when I go through my math review book.

3. I'm getting my portfolio together. I have narrowed it down to the following choices. If any of you want to take the time, I would be interested to hear feedback on which pieces seem the strongest or most interesting (even "non-musician" perspectives!).

Gallery (fl, cl, bsn, hn, tpt, tbn, perc, vln, vla, cb)

This is inspired by abstract expressionist paintings. 8 miniatures - I think the writing is pretty strong, although it is a collection of miniatures and therefore doesn't display much developmental skill. Still, it shows some skill with orchestration.

Score Recording

Obedience School (tape)

This is one of my favorite of my electroacoustic pieces, and I think the most technically accomplished. It uses a lot of algorithmic editing, as well as other processes like "improper noise reduction."


Petrichor (clarinet and tape)

This piece has a decent tape part and decent clarinet part. I still like listening to it, and it has become my most-performed piece (... 7 times ....)

Score Recording

Five Pieces for Laptop Quartet

This was a big project, and it displays technical skill with Max/MSP as well as my interest in improvisation. You can listen to all of the pieces at the link above. I also did a video for "Baffin Bay."

Three Haiku (fl, gtr, vla, perc)

This is a 3-movement, 15-minute chamber piece. Some parts need a little improvement, but overall I think it's an interesting piece. I'm really proud of my timbral development, and I think the haiku form works well.

Score Recordings: Mvt I Mvt II Mvt III

Five Movements on Mondrian (video)

This is a little older, and isn't my most technically accomplished piece, but I still think it's very creative.

More Money Than You Know What To Do With (video)

I may include this one to show more improvisation, as well as experience with live electronics. It's fun, too.

Promenade de minuit (sax and harp)

This was commissioned by Turdus Merula (France). They haven't had a chance to perform it live yet, but they made a great demo recording for me. This was written intuitively, unlike a lot of my pieces, but it's still in a similar style to my other chamber works. One of my favorites to listen to...

Score Recording

Searching for Coincidences (flute duet)

This was written for rarescale. It is written for two flutes (they played on altos, my preference). It is an indeterminate piece - they are given 5 choices to play at all times, and create their own paths. It is written in proportional notation as well. Turned out pretty well, although its certainly not the most impressive thing I've done, compositionally. Interesting experiment, though.

Also, I need to fix up the score a bit...

Score Recording

Pachamama (perc. trio)

This was commissioned by the Cerberus Trio. It shows a different side of me, as it is very rhythmic and repetitive. It is all based on 8th-notes, but has different simultaneous meters. The form is based on a magic square - each number corresponded with a number of bars in which a certain rhythm, dynamic, or instrument would occur. Haven't heard it yet, but I think it will be cool.


Thanks for your input!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Theatre collaboration

I have mentioned a theater collaboration I've been working on with a friend of mine. It is titled CoaX LoVe Indulge IllusIon, and is based on Shakespeare's 148th sonnet (CXLVIII).

O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love's eye is not so true as all men's 'No.'
How can it? O, how can Love's eye be true,
That is so vex'd with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love! with tears thou keep'st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

This is the text of the piece, and there is a lot of wordless acting and dancing. The music alternates between a waltz and a tango. I've gone through several versions of the tango specifically before I finally got it right. Sounds ok on MIDI so far, and this week I will make a better sounding version with my keyboards. We're hoping to mount a performance sometime this fall, although time is getting short at this point! I will post a sample for you to hear on the next episode.

I have also been revisiting my laptop quartets. Not only have I been occasionally rehearsing with a laptop trio here in NY, the Electric Monster Laptop Ensemble at Montana State has been working on the pieces. Very exciting! As I mentioned before, I am making a short-and-sweet version of my thesis for publication. I am also making some streamlined versions of Freq Out and Presets. The hardest thing to believe is that I turned in this project a year ago this week!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

quick update

I try to update this each week, generally on Sunday. I didn't this week, because this week has been busy. So here I am on Thursday.

Not much new to report. I have worked a little on my dance/play collabo, and have studied a bit for the dreaded GRE. I may be going to Atlanta for the holidays, and am trying to put together some performances. I'll have 2 performances up here in New Jersey this fall, too (playing Late Frost). I am working on a paper for eContact! I'm still working with Art+Culture, and wrote a post about one of my favorite bands, Morphine.

More news on Sunday, hopefully!

Monday, September 7, 2009


This week, I have been thinking. My first grad school applications are due on December 15th. Last year I was still working on my personal statements during Christmas. I don't want to do that again. I want to have everything sent off by the 15th - which, to be safe, means I need to send everything around the 1st or 2nd of December.

If I could pull off the piano piece I outlined in the last post, that would be awesome. But let's be practical here - I have 3 months to do everything. It would take me 3 months of hard work just to do that piece. So I am going to put that aside for the time being.

I still want to work with Processing and video, so I think I'm going to do something simpler, and use an existing piece as the input. For example, my piano piece "Snow Drifts" from Late Frost (you can listen on my ReverbNation widget at the top right of this page). I have been wanting to do a promo video for at least one of the Late Frost pieces, to put on YouTube for some extra exposure. I'm thinking something very abstract, using the amplitude (volume) or pitches to control a Processing program. Not something I will be able to do in an afternoon, but I'm sure I can get a little something going by November.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

piano/electronics/video piece outline

I've got a good plan sketched out for the piano/electronics/video piece. It's a little complicated, so I'll try to explain it as best I can.

It will be four movements, performed attaca. Total length will be 18 minutes. The four movements are proportioned using Fibonacci numbers (2, 3, 5, 8), but shuffled around. I am loosely basing the piece on the classical sonata. Here are my approximate timings and notes:

Movement I: "Allegro" - 8 minutes

Intro: 30"
low piano notes, fade into synth notes, with static and "transmission" sounds

Exposition: 2'45"
theme A: 1'15" | transition: 15" | theme b: 1' | coda: 15"

theme A:
assertive chords, martial (like Chopin's Polonaise in A), accompanied by noisy "transmission" sounds

theme B:
homo- and polyphonic textures, more 'lyrical,' computer plays tone-based sounds

Development: 2'

Recapitulation: 2'45"
theme A: 1'15" | transition: 15" | theme b: 1' | coda: 15"

Movement II: "Adagio" - 3 minutes

Chaconne: 10 variations @ 18" each
1. "organ" ground bass
2. add disjunct & sparse piano melody
3. melody continues, computer adds "electric piano" chords
4. piano chords, mimicking computer part in #3
5. piano chords + melody
6. new chords + counter melody + computer 'synth' melody
7. ground bass + computer melody (piano tacet)
8. piano + electronics - dense chords (12+ tones)
9. smaller (3-4 note) and faster-moving chords
10. conjunct, faster piano melody

III. "Scherzo" - 2 minutes

A = 40", B (trio) = 40", A = 40"

Aa = piano - main role, computer adds sine-tone "R2D2" filigre
Ab = call & response piano and computer

Ba = percussive computer part, piano melodic
Bb = synth doubles piano melody

Aa & Ab repeat

IV. "Rondo" - 5 minutes

A = 45" B = 45" A = 45" C = 30" A = 45" B = 45" A = 45"

A - driving, insistent rhythm
B - fast, skittering around
C - chords and synth glissandi

(obviously I need to think more on this one!)

Video Component

I am brainstorming on this - it's all going to be fairly simple, so I'll actually be able to accomplish it! Mainly flashing dots, squares, and lines. The whole experience will be a little sci-fi. More details on my next post!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

what will be consuming my life:

My favorite posts to write are the ones exploring my compositional thought process. It helps me understand how I work, and I hope it can give people insight into my work, or give other composers/artists some ideas.

Unfortunately, I don't have one of those prepared today. Instead, so I don't leave everyone hanging, I wanted to update with a list of what will soon be consuming my life. In other words, major projects:

1. GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATIONS. This is the most important. I have wanted to pursue a PhD in music composition for 6 years now, and it is time. I was hoping to start this fall, but I only applied to hard schools, they didn't have enough money due to the economy, etc. This year, I'm applying to 12 schools so I know I'll get into at least 2 or 3!

subsections of this project:

a. Graduate Record Exam - I am taking this again. I took it in '04 and scores are only good for 5 years. Also, I know I can perform much better on the writing portion - I got a 4 out of 6 last time, and I don't think I'm that shabby a writer. I am starting to brush up on my math though - haven't done a lot of that stuff in a long time!

b. Statement(s) of Purpose - I got started late on these last year (I was writing them feverishly over Christmas). I'm going to start soon so I have plenty of time to revise and have people read them (volunteers welcome!).

c. Piano/Electronics/Video piece - This is going to be a big piece (18 minutes), but I feel I need a new piece to show off. Since I want to delve into multimedia the video part will be important. It will be fairly simple, but I need to show that I can do a little bit.

2. Art+Culture - I have a part-part-time position as music curator for this website, so I've been doing some blogging and research there. It's a very cool site, definitely worth exploring.

3. Dance/Theatre collaboration - I'm working on music for an abstract play/dance piece based on Shakespeare's 148th sonnet. It is half waltz and half tango... We're hoping to get it on a festival or something in late fall.

4. Promoting my CDs - I am gradually booking shows around NJ for playing pieces from Late Frost. I'm also putting together a laptop trio, and when we do shows I'll bring a few copies of Parallel Lives. I've put clips on several sites (now all tracks can be streamed on Last.FM), and I'm hoping to find time to make some YouTube videos for Late Frost.

5. The Piano/Electronics/Video piece. Yes, I put it down twice.

That's a lot of work, but it's all going to be fun and well worth the effort!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Just in case someone is actually following this blog...

As you may gather from my Twitter updates, I've been busy traveling. I'm back home and starting to get to work. More info coming soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

composing a piece in 60 minutes...

Today I responded to a composition challenge presented by New Music Hartford. The challenge was to compose a piece in 60 minutes. Several choices for instrumentation (solo flute, solo cello, flute & cello, electric guitar, 2-channel tape, and a quartet I can't remember the instrumentation for. These options were revealed at 3pm EDT, and a finished composition had to be emailed off by 4pm EDT. In a few weeks, the performers will rehearse each work for 60 minutes, then present these pieces in concert.

I started a similar tradition at Georgia State University called "Instant Music." For that project, composer drew names of performers out of a hat, then wrote pieces for these ad hoc ensembles. We had a full 24 hours to write and rehearse our piece - of if only I had that luxury today!

I had a few ideas in mind before the contest began, just to help myself along. I decided to use a tone row, to help me make decisions more quickly. I also decided to base my form on a sonnet. I would have 14 short sections - 4-5 bars each - and would reflect the sonnet's rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG) through repetition.

I went with flute and cello duo - it seemed the best combination of interest and manageability. I sketched out my form (again, each section was to last 4-5 bars):

A - florid flute line, cello drones
B - declamatory cello line, flute tremolo
A - repeat A
B - repeat B

C - contrapuntal, similar rhythms
D - passing off short phrases
C - repeat C
D - repeat D

E - melody in tight harmony (3rds, etc.)
F - tremolo, creating static chords
E - repeat E
F - repeat F

G - long tones, fading away
G - repeat G

Despite all this repetition, I only finished through D. In all, the piece is 36 bars, which means I actually only wrote 18 bars! I think what slowed me down was that I had my 12-tone matrix on the computer, so I had to keep going back and forth on the screen. I am wondering if I had taken 2 minutes to write it on paper, if that would have helped me in the long run. Possibly.

Perhaps my initial outline was too ambitious. In the end, I have a sort of binary form, which would somewhat work if I had made D feel more like an ending. As it is, it just kind of stops.

In the end, I feel that while this piece is kind of crap, I definitely have the outline for a decent piece. Maybe I'll spend another hour on it someday.

If you're that bored/curious:


Saturday, July 25, 2009

another week goes by...

Still not much new to report on the composition front, I am sad to say. I had a few months filled with activity so I suppose it's ok to have a month here with not much accomplished. I have been working a good bit for my non-music job, and looking around for other jobs, gigs, etc. So there's my excuse.

One project I have been working on recently was revamping my laptop quartets. I had an initial practice with two people who are interested in forming a trio, so I have been reprogramming some of the pieces for three people. One was far easier than I expected, so I wondered why I put it off so long! The other is taking more work but is still coming along much faster than expected. Maybe I'm just better at programming (in Max/MSP anyway) than I thought. At any rate, Freq Out has been needing some editing to streamline it and I have done that. Now just have to make it look prettier and create a trio version.

In other Max/MSP news, I have been making another Magic Square experiment, using the numbers to create rhythms (numbers are 1-16, treating each number as a tuplet within a 4-beat bar). The square also affects the form, chords, and tempo. More on this when it's done. More of an etude than an actual piece, but that's ok.

Slowly pulling together ideas for the piano/electronics solo. I think I will stick with Max/MSP for the Audio, and learn more about Processing to make visuals. I am proposing an 18-minute piece, in 4 connected movements loosely based on sonatas: a long, fast-ish movement in vaguely sonata form; a slow movement in ternary form; a short, fast "variations" movement; a fast "rondo." Extramusical ideas in my head keep pointing toward space, more specifically the moon (I may revisit the ideas of Mare Serenitatis here), so it should only seem like a sonata in a very general sense!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Well, this week I did not get much done music-wise. It's been really hot and I work outside, so I've been pretty much exhausted every day - even though I only work about 3.5-4 hours a day. I've mainly been researching and daydreaming about future schools for the PhD, new jobs and passive income opportunities, etc. More news to come...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

interview, etc.

Evan Merz interviewed me earlier this week for his Computer Music Blog. It is a 12-minute audio interview about the CD Parallel Lives. Evan did a great job editing it, so I sound somewhat coherent!

Besides that I have worked on a few small music tasks - making parts and things like that - but no new stuff. I'll get cracking soon. Some decisions from last time:

I am going to concentrate my attentions on the piano-electronics piece. I have been thinking up different ideas, but I'm still not sure how I'm going to go about it. I started thinking that it would be interesting to incorporate visuals, which means I will probably need to learn Java/Processing. I think that will be very helpful in the long-run though.

The other projects:

Piezo flowers installation - middle burner. I really want to do this project, but it will entail 1) buying an Arduino, sensors, wire, soldering iron, etc. 2) learning more Arduino programming.

Dead Broad revisited - back burner. It's just going to take awhile to do, plus I doubt I could finish it, have Caleb practice it, and make a video recording of it in time for PhD application season.

Orchestral piece - extreme back burner. Since it will be based on an existing piece anyway, I think I could knock it out in a month if I reeeeealllly have to.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

deciding on the next pieces

I am working on incidental music for a play/ballet project, but that is coming along fairly well. The performance is tentatively set for November and I need to meet with the writer and choreographer before I can really proceed.

Other than that, since I finished Pachamama the other day, I'm coming off a round of requested pieces. This leaves me free to do whatever I want, although I must say that it's a little more exciting to write specifically for someone else.

I have a list of projects I want to start, and I am trying to prioritize them. I will be applying for PhDs this fall (for hopefully the last time - 3rd time is a charm, right?), and I feel like I need some things to beef up the portfolio. My past few pieces have all been very interesting to write, as I have been experimenting with a lot of different ideas, but I feel that I need a new piece with a little more weight. Also, I am interested in some multi-media type programs, specifically at Brown and Washington, so I feel that I need something a little more, well, multi-media.

So here are my ideas:

A big piano and electronics piece - 20 minutes in length. For digital piano, acutally, using MIDI information to trigger things. For the electronic part, I could do this in Max/MSP but I could also switch over to its free spinoff PureData. I'm actually leaning towards ChucK, because it would be a little more impressive if I learned a new programming language...

Percussion + electronics and video piece. This would actually be an aggressive revision of a previous piece, Dead Broad on Broad Street. Thinking around 15 minutes. Caleb Herron, who I wrote for in the first place, is excited about this, so I do have a performer lined up. Lot of logistical hurdles in putting it together, though.

An orchestra piece. Another revision here, of a brass quintet titled "Epiphanies." Something I've been interested in doing. Indiana University requires that one of your portfolio pieces be an orchestral piece. So I will need to do this if I want to go to IU. But maybe that's a sign that IU is too conservative for me!

Piezo flowers installation. I made piezo flowers for a previous installation, but they were the sensors. I really liked how they looked and would like to turn them into speakers, playing algorithmically generated ambient music. Ultimately I would want to program small chips so that I could make a bunch of these flower pots and have them throughout a room. That would take learning a lot more programming. However, I could at least to a prototype with an Arduino.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

stamping my music's imaginary passport

I just had a performance (of Searching for Coincidences), and I was 4000 miles away from it. While I find it very interesting that my music can travel further and more easily than I can, I do dream of an exciting life where I can follow it around a bit!

If and when I get my hands on a recording, I will post it on my site. I am very curious how it turned out, since it is indeterminate. I don't even have a MIDI file to give me some kind of sense for it.

In August, I hopefully WILL follow my music - actually, my music will not be heard if I am not there - to Toronto. A paper and a piece have been accepted to the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium. I'm also excited to see more of Canada than the other side of Niagara Falls!

The percussion trio, now officially titled Pachamama, is nearly complete. My friends looked at a draft and they are very excited about it, which is always nice to hear. This one I am looking forward to hearing a recording, as well. I can listen to the rhythms in Sibelius, but percussion in particular is notoriously bad in notation programs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Sometimes I have trouble coming up with titles. I generally favor programmatic titles ("Travels"), rather than genre titles ("String Quartet No. 1"), so I make this process hard for myself.

The rock band piece that I recently finished became Six Textures for Rock Quartet. This is primarily a genre title, but at least it tells you that there will be six movements, and the emphasis will be on texture. It was the best I could come up with for that one.

The flute duet became Searching for Coincidences. I named this after some debate (and opening it up to my Facebook friends). In the end, I felt that this title best reflected the effect of performing the piece - both players choose different paths, and they may or may not be playing notes from the same chord. On the (likely) rare occasions that they do play the same chord, it will seem like a coincidence. I don't know how it will work/sound until after the premiere!

I wrote a quick piece for viola and vibraphone titled Mirror Universes. This is another indeterminate piece, in which each musical "cell" can be read in treble or alto clef. The instruments try to emulate each other - vibraphone with no pedal emulates pizzicato, string harmonics emulate bowed vibraphone bars, etc. Each cell will be played by both players, a 7th apart due to reading in different clefs. I feel that they will be in their own little "world" or universe, but there will be many recognizeable reflections. Hence, the mirror. It also alludes to sci-fi, particularly Star Trek. I find that cheesy in general, but at least this reference is subtle!

Now I am trying to title my percussion trio. Due to the instrumentation (ocarina, conch shell, melodica, stones, shaker, log drum, drums, pebbles, paper/plastic bags, frog guiro), I am picturing primitive cultures in the Andes (pre-Inca). I don't know much about those cultures, and this is not directly inspired by any music, just alludes to something primitive and organic. Researching online, I learned about Inca beliefs, including their name for Mother Earth, "Pachamama." I love that word, but I fear that as a title, people may consider it humorous, which is not my intent. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

percussion trio update

I've been working on the percussion trio a bit this week, committing the "sin" of composing directly in Sibelius. I think it's helpful for this piece, since I can't properly execute the simultaneous patterns myself. As I wrote last time, I have some simple rhythms that I am currently refining.

The refinements are as follows:

1. Creating space - rather than have the players start full-on and keep playing for 12.5 minutes, I wanted to thin out the texture. Otherwise, we get nearly constant eighth notes. So I began subtracting notes over the course of several bars, until the patterns consist of only 1 or 2 notes, with many rests. Then I build the patterns up again.

2. Emphasizing the meters - this is all written in 4/4 for purposes of ensemble, but I'm really conceiving of it as having 3 meters simultaneously. If you listen to the repeating patterns, you can pick up on some of these, but I wanted to make them more apparent. I began adding rolls on the up-beats, which has worked well so far. I'm trying to come up with other ideas.

3. Expanding the timbres - I've only barely started with this today. All 3 players will have a small drum. I began introducing the rim to add another interesting sound. The rolls somewhat accomplish this goal as well. Again, still thinking about new ideas.

With these changes in place, a form is beginning to emerge. There are several moments when two or all three of the players seem to lock into a groove (although they are really in separate meters), and there are moments when the texture thins and we get a half-time feel. One longer groove also has all three players exchanging rolls, which should be an interesting effect, and comes in a little before the Golden Mean. The "melodic" tone-based instruments (conch shell, ocarina, melodica) seem to emerge rather naturally from the texture (at least from what I can tell on crap MIDI sounds!).

More soon...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

percussion trio, etc.

First, an update on previously mentioned pieces...

I did complete the alto flute duet awhile back (I am calling it Searching for Coincidences), and sent it off to the intended performers, rarescale, who will be premiering it in London on June 27. My London debut!

I finished the rock quartet piece as well. It is titled simply Six Textures for Rock Quartet. I will be going over it with the band leader, Darren Nelsen, this week for finishing touches, mistakes, etc.

Now for the percussion trio...

Like the piece Axe Grinder mentioned previously, this piece uses a Magic Square to create the form. This time, I used a 9x9 square. Again, the squares going horizontally determine the number of measures in a section. There are nine rows, so I divided these into sets of three, which determine the rhythmic pattern, instrument, and dynamic level for each player.

The numbers in each square had a hand in determining what happens. For example, I gave each player 4 instruments. If the number is 1-20, they play instrument A; 21-40 is instrument B, etc. Similarly, numbers 1-20 denote a mezzo-forte dynamic; 21-40 is mezzo-piano, and so on.

The rhythm patterns are in lengths of 3, 4, 5, and 7 beats. If the number of bars was divisible by one of these numbers, that became the rhythm pattern (e.g. a square with the number 39 would have a 3-beat rhythmic pattern and a square with the number 28 would have a 7-beat pattern). Even numbers and prime numbers were given a 4-beat pattern.

With these constraints in place, I wrote 4 very simple patterns and threw them in the appropriate spots. Some instruments are intended more for sustained "atmosphere" so they may not have a rhythm per se, but instead simply re-articulate every 3,4, 5, or 7 beats. With this overall structure set, I plan to go through and refine the surface - basically change things up here and there to add interest.

While I have this rhythmic structure in place, I am not intending for this to be a heavy, driving-rhythm type of piece. It will have rhythms throughout, but the overall dynamic will be soft (mezzo-forte is the loudest, and I gave it to squares with fewer bars). The overall sound-world I am trying to convey here is a forest. Here is the instrument list: Perc. I: ocarina, shaker, box of pebbles, small drum; Perc. II: conch shell, stones, plastic bags, small drum; Perc. III: toy saxophone/kazoo, log drum, frog guiro, small drum.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


The past 2 nights, I performed selections from my CD Late Frost in friends' living rooms. It has been a lot of fun! I like bringing my compositions to people in a very intimate setting, and I had fun *trying* to explain what the pieces were all about! These will be good warm-ups to future gigs - I am currently looking into the NYC coffeeshop scene, but I am also thinking about performing more in homes. seems like a good resource for that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

site redesign

I am revamping my website. Although I am proud to say that I learned HTML and CSS code and did the current version on my own (with some copying and pasting from "how-to" sites), I must admit that there are better designs out there. I found a template I liked on this site, and am adding my content to it. It's going to be a lot cleaner and more professional-looking. I'm very excited!

Look for the new version in June. If I recall correctly, I bought my domain back in June of 2006 (after I attended June in Buffalo). So this will be kind of a 3-year anniversary event!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

upcoming concerts!

I am happy to write here that I have 3 upcoming concerts! Two will be in Atlanta the last week of May, and one will be in Hoboken on June 14th. More details will be available on my site, which I will (finally) update this weekend.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Axe Grinder

In keeping with my previous theme of resurrecting old pieces, here is a "new" old piece.

It was a school project in Nickitas Demos's Composition Seminar at Georgia State (I don't remember exactly when, but I'm going to guess Spring 2006). I was to write a piece 'in the style of Zack Browning." I tried to emulate his high-energy, rock-influenced style, and use some of his compositional ideas, notably the Golden Section and magic squares.

This piece has an ABA form, with the B section beginning at the negative Golden Mean (38.2% through the piece) and ending at the Golden Mean (61.8% through the piece). The piece is about 3 minutes, so the B section lasts from 1:09 to 1:51.

Magic Squares are tables in which each row, column, and diagonal have the same sum. I used a 4x4 square for the A section and a 3x3 for the B section. There are 4 "voices" in the original piece - trumpet, trombone, and 2 voices in the "tape." In the new version, the voices are guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums.

Each row in the square represents one voice. The numbers in each square told me how many bars each voice would play one of four patterns (one of which was silence). After that particular number of bars, the voice would switch to another pattern. Thus, there are repeating patterns, sometimes unique to each voice, sometimes in unison or in canon.

Listen (MIDI version)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rock Quartet piece

Working on a piece for rock quartet (electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drumset). The idea is to treat them as a chamber ensemble.

I've had this sketched out for quite some time and am finally putting it together. It is going to employ a lot of box notation, as shown. For those who don't know this technique, it basically means to play those pitches in any order and repeat ad libitum.

Still kind of sketching things out, going between Sibelius and pencil/paper. The percussionist will be playing something here, just haven't figured out exactly what.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Things are coming together for the flute piece, which I am sending off today! My Facebook friends had a good time coming up with titles. Some of the best include "Density 43" and "Requiem for a Tuner."

I will post it on my website in the near future; of course, I want my prospective players to see it first. In the meantime, enjoy yet another "old/unofficial" piece:

Straphanger Premix

Most people have remixes, but this is the ORIGINAL version of Straphanger. I worked on this for about a month, then decided to scrap it. I wrote Straphanger in one week - over Thanksgiving break in 2006. I was trying to get it ready to send off as part of my doctoral application for Illinois (I was accepted there but ended up going to Belfast instead). Anyway, it still has its moments, so I thought I would share.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I had a good time this weekend at the New York Electroacoustic Music Festival. It was very well run and full of great music. I went to all but 2.5 of the concerts, and kinda feel exhausted now.

Petrichor was performed by a wonderful young clarinetist, Asuka Yamamato. I am happy with the performance, and I think that it fairly unique among the music at the festival, which is nice.

Some of my favorite pieces on the festival include: James Dashow's MATHEMATICS III from ARCHIMEDES (a planetarium opera), Paul Koonce's Clockwork, Irene Buckley and Mike Hannon's Evolution of close double stars, David A. Jaffe's Impossible Animals, and Anne LeBaron's The Left Side of Time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Still working...

Just a quick update. I'm still working on the alto flute duet, and it's coming along ok. The performers want it by April 15th, so I'm hoping to finish it very soon.

Hmm...that reminds me...I need to finish my taxes soon, too.

Also, NYCEMF this week! My piece Petrichor will be performed on Saturday at the 6:45 pm concert.

Despite the date, I attest that this is all true.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Apple Chord

Digging up more old stuff... I saw that Christopher Chong had posted this on his site. It was a quick project we did together last year, as part of Pedro Rebelo's composition module at SARC.

We recorded me eating an apple, typing on a keyboard, and convolved it with The Apple Chime. There is some algorithmic editing using nGEN. Realized with Csound, Max/MSP, and ProTools.

Listen here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Making my CDs

I make my CDs by hand, to order. They still look pretty decent. Maybe this will help/inspire people, I don't know.

Step 1: Burn the CD

Step 2: Print out the cover (not shown) and traycard. 2 can fit on each page of US Letter paper.

Step 3: Cut out the traycard and cover

Step 4: Once CD is done burning, print onto the CD.

Step 5: Put the traycard in the jewel case. Make sure the sides are creased really well.

Step 6: Put the CD holder on top of the tray, and the CD in the holder.

Step 7: Put the cover page in the case cover, and attach the case cover to the tray.

Step 8: Finished product!

Note: I can do this in less than 21 minutes, but I was taking pictures...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vernal Equinox

Visit my ReverbNation page, and you can hear "Vernal," the final track from my CD Late Frost. Today is the Vernal Equinox, so it's especially appropriate and I hope it gets you in a springtime mood. Cheers!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hypertext poem experiment

I made this sometime last spring or summer, while I was doing some side research on types of new media. One idea that I found quite interesting is "hypertext poetry."

This example is purely an experiment in interactivity. The form of each stanza is a Tanka (similar to Haiku, with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7). If you hover over lines, they will turn yellow, which means you can click on them and reveal more stanzas. Each stanza begins with a line or partial line from a previous stanza.

It is all stream-of-consciousness, and not intended to make sense altogether.

Here it is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alto Flute duet (in progress) - Part I

I am working on an alto flute duet for a friend, who I'm hoping will be able to play it on some of her recitals in England this summer.

For the past year or so, I have been writing a lot of indeterminate music (my Master's dissertation focused on this). I have written some improv game pieces, but last year I began to write more detailed pieces that included some improv or indeterminate elements. It's been quite a change from my other work, which is far more determined and detailed.

This piece is primarily indeterminate in performance. Players can make a lot of decisions that determine how the piece will sound. Below is my sketch for the opening of player I's part:

I determined some chords that I wanted projected. In the first "bar" we have major-seventh chords. Player II will have the same chords, but different gestures. The first bar will be repeated 5 times, with each player choosing a different line for each repeat. There will be some extended chords and bitonal goodness when this happens.

I began just writing gestures, but I found they all had a similar contour. To break myself from this rut, I used an online random generator to help me determine the gestures. I generated 10 rows of 5 numbers (6 numbers in bar 2), using integers 1-8. The integers determined pitch and register. 1 = the root, 2 = the third, etc. (CMaj7: 1=C, 2=E, 3=G, 4=B, 5=C(octave up), etc...).

I entered the notes in Sibelius. Note: I am using the symbol tool to draw everything. I can't make a MIDI realization, but I can do proportional notation this way. It's hard to get notes to stay on the line or in a space, but it works reasonably well after fiddling (see this piece for a more finished example).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blueprint No. 1

I recently finished a graphic score piece with live electronics for bassoonist Michele Bowen. It is in Max/MSP. Here is a screenshot, and if you want to try it yourself, you can download the patch here.

I did a little mockup, improvising on the piano. I messed up the levels, so the piano is all distorted. Still gives you a taste. 10:30 in length.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baffin Bay video

I made a quick video of Baffin Bay:

This piece exists in this "fixed version" and also a version for laptop quartet. The version you hear is on my new CD! The visuals are a bunch of abstract paintings I made on the computer with ArtRage.

blog redux

Dear reader(s):

After nearly 2 years, I've decided to start blogging again (irregularly). This won't be anything personal, just a kind of "work blog." On my website's news page, I generally just put big announcements, so I'm going to use this as a way to point you to new things I've added to the site.

Current big projects:
- an alto flute duet, that I'm hoping a friend will play in London later this year
- a percussion trio for some of my pals in Atlanta
- a piece for rock quartet (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums)

Some minor projects I'm working on/brainstorming:
- Promo videos for tracks from my new albums, featuring some paintings I've done in ArtRage.
- Some interactive piano and Max/MSP stuff (using MIDI!!!)
- a piece for narrator and tape
- a long-form ambient piece/CD

Stay tuned....