Category Archives: Composition

Currents (Ravello Records)

Currents investigates the overlaps and gaps between noise and pattern; acoustic and electronic timbre; and live and fixed elements. Currents sounds out the intersections of our current electronic state while referencing its history. The piece was written for Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, a full stage production exploring the life and work of Serbian-American inventor, Nikola Tesla. Currents references Thomas Edison’s inefficient and noisy direct current (DC) electric motor and imagines the brilliant showmanship of Tesla and his revolutionary alternating current (AC) technology.

Distance-X

Distance-X is a digital musical instrument that consists of a hacked Gametrak, Nintendo Wiimote, and customized Kyma software. Music on Distance-X is all human-powered computer music. No tapes. No spacebar playback. Just body movements turned musical mutants.

Tesla: Light, Sound, Color

Tesla: Light, Sound, Color is a 90-minute stage production with live physics demonstrations, digital animation, an original string and electronic musical score, and contemporary choreography. The project is the culmination of a 2016 Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights award.

Hailed as a genius of the industrial age, Serbian immigrant Nikola Tesla continues to captivate the public with his electrical inventions that includes alternating current, contributions to radio transmission, the Tesla coil, as well as 280 other additional patents. The production brings Tesla’s enigmatic story to the stage by combining the science of his inventions with mixed media representations of his complex and tumultuous life. Harmonic Laboratory brings original artwork and broad collaborations together with content by Brad Garner, Jeremy Schropp, Jon Bellona, and John Park. Collaborators include: University of Oregon Physicist Stan Micklavzina, Delgani String Quartet, Eugene Ballet Company dancers, and visual artist Julia Oldham.

I composed six new original works for string octet (four violins, two violas, two cellos) and fixed electronics. One of the works, Currents, includes live Tesla Coils driven by MIDI messages. A second work, Broadcasting, uses FM transmitters to send audio to handheld radios carried by the eight dancers on stage.

DistanceX, Study 1 (TCF4)

Human-powered computer music. No tapes. No spacebar playback. Just body movements turned musical mutants.
DistanceX is a new digital musical instrument I’ve developed for live performance, specifically tailored for Kyma. The input controller consists of a hacked Gametrak, cut in half to leave a single 3D joystick fader, which is then strapped to the right arm. A Nintendo Wiimote provides additional button and accelerometer controls. In Study 1 (TCF4), a single 6.928 second audio sample serves as the material, a mid-range frequency oscillation that is controlled directly by the performer. Both Gametrak and Wiimote control analysis file parameters, and these controls shift slightly depending on varying control states. The performer has full command over each control state. The result is a choreographic relationship between performer and sound, a movement-based sonic composition wound within the boundaries of his own parametric kinesphere.

The performance was recorded at Virginia Tech on May 2, 2017. Thank you to Tanner Upthegrove for running sound and Charles Nichols for organizing the concert.

Precipitation 3

Precipitation 3 is one of a series of musical compositions written for 26 clock chimes as part of the sound art installation, Aqua•litative. With my Precipitation series, I treat the electromechanical structure as musical instrument, navigating through sound with the syntactical construction of code. Compositions played by the sculpture evoke precipitation data of California weather stations by cycling through bits of its data. These cycles create emergent sonic patterns in a continuously evolving play between density and rhythm. Movement flows as collapsing waves, additively striking a cybernetic balance between natural order and mechanic motion.

Aqua•litative is a kinetic installation that renders multiple data sets of California’s water history into a physical experience. The work correlates natural factors contributing to California’s water shortages, outlining the serpentine narrative of water through the translation of data into kinetic movement and acoustic sound.

Listen

Listen, for two performers, is about listening, or rather, not listening. The decay of the sound tracks the decay of the physical body– the vocal cords are shredded alongside the desire to be heard.

I wrote the piece thinking about the physical limits of the body and the mistranslation of communication. Given the current political climate, I may have been channeling more than just the idea of (not) listening.

Piling Stones

A Gold Star family is one who has lost a loved one in military service. Stemming from Jewish tradition, many Gold Star families place stones on grave markers in Arlington National Cemetery, which is one of the largest military cemeteries in the United States. Having visited friends in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where many who were killed in Iraq & Afghanistan rest, I took the mental image of the place as inspiration for the piece.

#Ferguson

#Ferguson is a solo percussion work based upon Twitter feeds surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on Aug. 9, 2014. The work has three characters: Michael Brown (tenor drum); Darren Wilson & the police (snare drum); the public response via Twitter (woodblocks). After Michael Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson, there were demonstrations and civil unrest. These demonstrations were met with police resistance and curfews. The shooting and following events underscore the racial disparities of the justice system.

In August and September 2014, #ferguson and other tweets pushed past 100,000 per day. By the time the piece premiered in February 2015, there were less than 10,000. Fading interest and mishandling of the situation by law enforcement and government officials leaves us not with resolution, but instead with questions. How can we construct positive changes after the shooting of Michael Brown? Has our political system (local, regional, state, and federal) opened any channels for dialogue surrounding racial profiling, or inequalities in the prison system? Or, have prejudices towards minorities, specifically towards African Americans, remained the status quo here in America?

I sincerely hope my last question is proven false.

Credits:
2.20.2015 concert performed by I-Jen Fang

For anyone wishing to perform #Ferguson, please contact me beforehand. All I ask is for an advance handshake, a performance recording, and a program. Here is the score.