About the Music
for 8-channel sound (2012)
Three types of material – wooden, metallic, tone cluster—interact with three behaviors—impulse train, complex mass texture, sustained texture. Broadly speaking, complex textures are treated as unstable and tend to either degrade or coalesce into simpler forms. Complex granular or pointillistic textures periodically reemerge, only to be captured by these “simplifying” forces. The resulting simplified textures inherit irregularities from the complex “parent” material and never arrive at true uniformity. Throughout the work, simplified textures occasionally act on each other as well, as in the closing moments when wavelike pulsing behavior is applied to slow-evolving tone clusters.
TAPE PIECE ON SMALL SOUNDS
for 2-channel sound (2003)
As the title suggests, the focus is on small sounds, i.e. quiet or nearly inaudible sound sources, close-miked and greatly amplified for use in the piece. One of the goals was not merely to capture these sounds, but to give them real presence and weight, bringing an orchestral quality to sounds that would not otherwise be audible from even a few feet away. My favorite source in the piece was a piece of taut wire—when I plucked it, I could see it vibrate, but could hear nothing. Close-miked and processed, it becomes a huge percussive sound, with a sharp attack and rich low-frequency content. Other sources included strings, springs, bowed objects, ocarinas, and damaged electronic toys.
for small springs and 8-channel live electronics (2013)
The spring box is a simple instrument consisting of four springs suspended by metal hooks within a wooden box. Contact mics are attached to the hooks of springs 1-3, and the performer manipulates the springs, one by one, with an ebow. Each spring is associated with its own set of live processing techniques, tailored to its specific acoustic properties. Spring 4 is activated by a feedback loop: One contact mic acts as a tiny speaker emitting randomly fluctuating sine tones into the spring, and the other contact mic records the sine tone and the spring’s sympathetic vibrations, processes them, and feeds them
back into the output, etc. Once feedback is established, the performer manipulates the spring’s vibrating properties, and hence the sound of the feedback loop, by inserting needles into the coils. The execution of the piece depends upon the performer listening carefully to the behavior of the springs and using her judgment to match each successive sound to a set of actions and time constraints provided by the composer. Spring Box was composed for percussionist Patti Cudd. The recording on this album was performed by the composer.
for 2-channel sound (2005)
Rally is an exploration of the relationship between human, animal, and synthetic vocalizations—ranging in scope from large crowd scenes to microscopic close-ups—and an attempt at a kind of abstract sonic creature design. Pitch, cadence, and vowelformant information derived from a number of speakers and “creatures” (including objects that only seem to vocalize) are used to drive various synthesis and re-synthesis processes. For example, a human being’s vowel formants filter the already vaguely speech- like sound of crushed seaweed; the air in the voice is extracted and cross-synthesized with a pig; pitch-detection extracts one voice’s “melodic” component which is then used to control the granulation parameters of another voice. Among the human beings in the piece are: Noam Chomsky, Harry Partch, Henry Cowell, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, and a feisty southern televangelist.
SAWBUZZ AND CAULDRON TIDE
for 8-channel sound (2014)
The source materials were performed by the composer using a mix of analog and digital synthesis techniques. The resulting composition captures the performative energy of the original material and derives its structural logic from the contour and pacing of those performances. The title refers to the two main types of material in the piece: Buzzy, undulating lines play out against and within a chaotic, bubbling brew.
ITS BEATING SPECTRAL HEART
for 8-channel sound (2016)
This piece is an homage to that venerated member of the experimental music instrumentarium, the automotive compression spring. The piece uses eight such springs and explores the beating and pulsing patterns that lurk with their complex spectra. Having found similar patterns in flute spectra, I have min- gled the two sounds. Yes, the piece is aware its retro sound world, and doubles down in the closing moments of heartfelt 80s synthesizer pastiche.