Again Beginning is a series of 17 short movements and is also a mobile form. The players choose a “version” of the piece by arranging and playing the movements in any order, repeating and omitting movements as desired. The movements are linked together by a diffuse network of self-similar musical material.
Larval Soup is a virtual composition which explores relationships between discontinuity and the present moment. It is composed in such a way that the players must constantly choose what they will play, mapping out their course, sometimes even folding two different ideas into each other simultaneously. The performers are “composing” in real time. The goal is to make the performance itself more vital and living.
A string quintet composed of many brief lively sounds which act as constellations or parts of a sonic mobile. The performers “play” with the sounds to create a flowing sonic tapestry. Initially the constellations are bound together by a driving common 8th-note pulse but as the piece progresses the music becomes less mobile and less flowing. The constellations become fixed in place and are no longer mobile. Towards the end of the piece they loosen up again, but this time the sonic constellations are unbound and without a common pulse. The sounds become free-floating sounds like tiny nomads. The quintet is divided into three large sections or movements. Each movement relies on single tonal center which acts as a harmonic drone for the entire movement. The overall tonal architecture of the piece is a monolithic chord progression; E-major, D-major, C-major, B-Major. Each movement is further comprised of many self-simuilar sections that are juxtaposed to create a rhizome-like form. The purposely monotonous repetition of some sections creates a sense of disproportionality. So even while the tonal scheme of the work is comfortably grounded and comprehensible, a coherent formal understanding of the piece is resisted in favor of playful disorientation.
This recording (live): The Toomai String Quintet
I went to Mozart’s original score on my work table, opened a bottle of ink, grabbed a paint brush and flung wads of ink onto the score. Then paint and colored caramel were added. This completed the first layers of Pollack-inspired chance operations. What is covered by paint is interpreted as silence in performance. Another filter of chance operations was executed by flipping a coin to decide the fate of each beat of music. If the coin landed heads-up, that entire beat was removed and the music would be compressed. If tails, the music stayed. The final step was to create a sonic layer that was alien or “outside” of the original music. This sonic graffiti layer is in the flute, clarinet and percussion music. This little alien trio implies that even as Mozart’s music is erased, a total disappearance is not possible. Instead, something other will always be there.
A musical deconstruction of Ive’s Thoreau.
In Search of Lost Color is a set of works exploring the expressive possibilities of piano resonances decaying and overlapping one another. The sounds are generated through physical gestures that are both violent and graceful. The initial attack of the sound is often shrill but what results is a cloud of rich harmony that can be heard glowing in the background. One is encouraged to listen to the way these harmonies decay and bleed into each other. The “bleeding” is a formal element helping to give shape to the melodic lines throughout the piece.
Movements no.’s I-III similarly share an opening section composed of repeated material followed by a cloud-like section where the piano’s decaying resonances take over the texture. Movement no.4 seems to start in the middle things and is one large cloud-like section unto itself. The slow moving decaying resonances create a texture that is stretched-out evoking an empty space of solemn desolation.
This recording: Yegor Shevtsov, piano
Blue Inscription is a miniature piece and it is my attempt to write a simple song. The piano, with its unique resonance, creates a kind of hazy harmonic field. Certain notes will stand out for a brief moment and then quickly fade away and disappear into the wash of harmony. I wanted to make a song that always seems to fade away.
Brontal no.3, a piece in four short sections, is composed around a very simple melodic line: a low note followed by a higher note. This is a kind of “Ur-melody” or “Ur-motion” around which the rest of the music is constructed. The Ur-melody originates in the viola and is echoed or shadowed throughout the piece by the other instruments.
This “echo-chamber” effect grows murkier in the second and third sections. Here the ensemble is almost always divided into two groups, each playing in different time signatures; one group is led by the violist and the other is conducted. Contrasting the always-changing Ur-melody is another melody which is also played by the viola. This melody is like a bird’s refrain. Each time it returns, it marks a little piece of sonic territory. Towards the end of the piece, the refrain fails to return, in some way implying that our little bird flew away.
The word “Brontal” is a neologism coined by Red Light percussionist, Kevin Sims. We take it loosely to be the adjectival form of the word brontosaurs, although the term has a broader use and can describe something that is strange, primordial, monolithic, and of odd proportions.
Natacha: “…a strange synthesis of schizophrenically sourced sounds, surreptitiously settling cerebrally in the soulful center of solemnity and frivolity…”.
Scott: “I would call them ‘secret’ and it’s about how they are constructed…a strange conceptual synthesis of how a machine would be personal to the point of a secret, almost something naughty…”.
Secret Machines are a series of pieces based around the idea of schizophrenic musical flows cut and connected together to form little musical machines.
No.1 for flute, violin, cello, piano percussion (2008)
No.2 for flute, violin, cello, piano percussion (2008)
No.3 for flute, violin, cello, piano (2008)
No.4 for piano (2008)
No.5 for flute, viola, cello, piano, percussion (2009)
No.6 for piano (2007, revised 2012)
Chaos Analog is about the physicality of playing an instrument and the animal nature of creating a sound. Various kinds of bodily experiments took place at the piano; screaming, dancing, grunting, nudity and auto-eroticism. The question became: How do I record the immediacy and violence of an improvised gesture? Notation? What I ended up with is an “analog” of the sounds created in the heated moment, a Chaos Analog. As Gilles Delueze says, an “analogy (resemblance) that is produced by non resembling means”.
An early work.