This piece concerns itself with moving from broken, percussive attacks to sustained sound. Many of the work’s phrases contain a tihai, a rhythmic and metric concept culled from Hindustani classical music that involves a twice repeated melody calculated to end on the downbeat of the work’s constant 5/4 meter. While composing the piece, I had in my mind a theory of human memory from neuroscience. Part of the theory involved an idea that some of our memories consisted of relevant relationships involving flexible representation. Such kinds of memories would be usable in wide variety of different circumstances. The musical parallel, to me, was that even “strange” expressions could come to relate to a common idea in a work. I think this concept explains some of Strange Filament’s formal relations, as well as some of the relationships between the vibraphone and electronic parts.
Infinity is a meditation on death and rebirth. In centering the work around Philip Henry Savage’s poem, I worked to musically convey the sense of awe and stillness in Savage’s contemplation of boundlessness. Interspersed are two passionate outbursts using texts from Japanese death poems. Such poems are not morbid, but rather–being written once in a lifetime just before the author’s death–are intensely personal and meaningful. These reflections on things beyond life represent to me winter and its end, and consequently, renewal in spring’s beginning.
Written for One World Symphony’s “Alive!” concert, Summer Cloud is inspired by the image of a swarm of gnats hovering at dusk under a sunset-tattooed sky, a common sight in my childhood. These memories are always accompanied by recollections of humidity about to burst through the rain clouds that inevitably follow it. Such images made me think of clouds of all forms as both dense aggregations of many little things, and as the space between all those little things.
Stain in the Sky
Stain in the Sky deals with the idea of a sonic image—representing a fragment of a personal memory—being crystallized and extended over time. I tried to write a piece with narrative implications that are nudged towards stasis, such that the piece, in a sense, wraps around itself. I think the end result is a sort of floating music. Additionally, reappearances of the opening homophonic chords function to frame the work’s sections. The instrumentation is: flute, clarinet, horn, piano, violin, and cello.
In “Breaths,” I was concerned with ritualizing the progression from tension to
relaxation, both metrically and harmonically. Throughout the movement, the viola
functions as a time keeper, repeating a talea-like 5 beat pattern.
I, from Three Sketches on Saturation
This is the first of three short pieces exploring the process of intensification created via orchestral crescendos (i.e. adding instruments to the texture). The work is performed here by the NYU Symphony Orchestra.