List of Compositions

  • Composition for Shitty Piano, Drum Samples, Concrete Sounds, and Processing (2012)

    • for: Shitty Piano and Live Electronics
    • duration: 12'
    • Watch Composition for Shitty Piano -- with Score
    • Program note:

      Composition of this piece was funded by an Allen Strange Award from the Washington (State) Composers Forum. As per a request from Shiau-Uen Ding, my goal was to combine my interests in musique concrete, electronica/techno, and live computer music as part of a large-scale solo piano work.
      I decided to work with a shitty piano as sound material. The shitty piano has interesting kinds of indeterminacy associated with it. You know that some notes are going to be "out", but you're never sure which ones. The details of this composition, though always following the same basic dramatic and formal outline, are always different at each performance. Every shitty piano is different. The musique concrete sounds can be re-realized in different combinations at each performance. Because shitty pianos are unreliable in producing exact pitches, I notate much of the piano part in a "graphic" way, specifying only general contours. Thus, the piece is mostly a "percussion" piece, largely devoid of melody and harmony, but chock-filled with funky rhythms and general joyous chaos and cacophony.
    • Technical Note:

      1. Shitty piano (any old upright will do, but if there is a particularly "colorful" one available, super!)
      2. Preferably, the pianist should be able to practice on the piano that will be used, regularly before the performance. If no particularly "colorful" pianos are available, a regular upright can be used, and we can "crappify" it with a tuning device.
      3. 2 dynamic microphones (not condenser).
      4. Cables (they will go into the FireFace, and then into MAX/MSP for processing).
      5. FireFace 800 or similar 8-channel interface. (I have a 400 and may simply upgrade if one is not available onsite).
      6. outputs cables from FireFace into the main mixer.
    • Score
    • Play Composition for Shitty Piano -- Studio Recording
    • Watch Composition For Shitty Piano -- Live!
  • Mergurs Ehd Ffleweh Bq Nsolst (2005)

    • for: Performance Artist/Vocalist, optional instrumental accompaniment
    • duration: 7'
    • One day a few years ago, when I was in cold, cold Minneapolis in the dead of winter, I looked up at the sun shining in the sky. Despite the cold temperatures, yea, even there its brightness seemed all-powerful. I imagined an ecstatic chant, executed before a ritual of self-immolation, by a denizen of the planet Mercury. Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, has a its hot side, facing the sun, and its cold side, facing away from the sun. A ritual occurs at the end of a life when the being moves from the cold side of Mercury to the hot side, where they are engulfed in flames. The words of the chant, and their translation, follow:

      mergurs ehd ffleweh bq nsolst
      bohde kii woon jjaah, nsolst, ah!
      morszehee bq manmeh wohpvahg ffohxvahv
      nohmorjj nmehvah mergurs
      bq naa jjaaaa shtoh, lloh jjaah shtoh
      nmeh ngohah, vadir yuuvsloh anmahss kroh-ahk
      blanmdanmg nohl jjaar anm
      a ahss mohlg jjuumm ohnm jjaah ahpanm
      yeshahp tchahkeh woe nwahv
      yeshahp ngohah
      wah jjahtanmg wah suustahnmanmg
      wah burkrohchkang bq wohv jjaaah nwoh


      From Mercury, a view of the Sun
      So great are you, oh sun!
      Now, my time has come
      As proud citizen of Mercury
      To see you, to feel you
      Let me, in this last act
      Immolate myself in your blinding light
      Devour my flesh
      Take it deep within you
      Let it become part of the
      All-creating, allsustaining, all-destroying
      being that is you
    • Play Mergurs, Ehd Ffleweh Bq Nsolst
    • Watch Mergurs, live at MATA Festival 2013
  • SL II: Ooogaaah: Dungeony Specimen Spaceship (1999/2003)

    • duration: 11'
    • Ooogaah's microtonal scales, harmonies, and tunings are derived from a single instant of a popular song. Various other samples and references are peppered throughout the work. It was originally written, in 1999, in collaboration with dancer Anja Majewska, whose choreography inspired much of its gestural language. Some of the samples are reminiscences of my childhood; since said childhood was shared with my brother, I have dedicated the work to him. I revised/remixed the work in 2003. It appears on the Electric Music Collective's album, Defiant.
    • Play Ooogaah, Dungeony Specimen Spaceship
  • Arc of Infinity (2006)

    • for: guitar
    • duration: 15'
    • Arc of Infinity was written for Carsten Radtke, who has performed and recorded it on several occasions in Germany and the United States, as well as recorded it on the album "Bach/Berio/Bailey". The composition is in an extended dramatic/episodic form, and pits the solo guitar against 3 "virtual instruments": bell-like sounds, a "dirty sampler" composed out of guitar notes from recent recorded repertoire, and flanged/delayed/filtered sounds. A lot of "half-diminished" and "dominant 7th" chords are found throughout; these relate to the fact that the harmonies of the work often coalesce in Just Intonation around whatever pitch(es) the guitar happens to be focussing on at a given moment.
    • Play Arc of Infinity, performed LIVE by Dan Lippel
    • Watch Arc of Infinity, with Dan Lippel, at ICE season opener
  • The Stuffed Ones (suite) (2004)

    • duration: 5'
    • The audio for The Stuffed Ones was composed and realized in 2004; I realized the video component at Bates College in 2008. The music is, rather traditionally, a suite of character pieces in different tempi and moods. They are all composed in 11-equal-divisions-of-the-octave tuning. This is sometimes described as the ultimate in atonal tunings, since there are no traditionally consonant intervals, but it's still capable of a wide range of expressive gestures.
    • Watch Goopy
    • Watch Ziggy
    • Watch Ellie
    • Watch Towelbear
  • Meditation by the Lake (2000)

  • Dancing Sylvan Denizens (2011)

  • Post-Nuclear Industrial Smurfette JumpFest (2005)

    • duration: 6'
    • Post-Nuclear Industrial Smurfette JumpFest is a piece of Abstract Dance Music. It speaks for itself. ProTools, with assorted plugins, working with sampled sounds and with sounds from the Roland XV-3080 Synthesizer, was used in its production.
    • Play Post-Nuclear Smurfette Jumpfest
  • Walking Down the Hillside at Cortona, and Seeing its Towers Rise Before Me (2007)

    • for: 2 pianos tuned to 19-tone equal temperament
    • duration: 10'
    • Many summers ago, we were in Cortona, Italy. It's a medieval hill-town, with the main town being located high up on the hill, where the incline is very steep. There is virtually no area that can be said to be on "flat ground" of any sort. There are lots of stone buildings, tall and short, archways, narrow streets, stairways and alleys. While descending a set of stairs at one point, my gaze slowly ascended to glance at the top of one of the taller towers. This simple motion of ascent-during-descent inspired this composition. In it, aspects of the music ascend (for example, the height of the chords--at the beginning they are simple triads, but the end they are vast 'skyscraper chords'), while other aspects descend (the "bass" of the chords). Other kinds of [relatively] simple patterns control other parameters. There are 7 "descents" over the course of the piece, each one is more and more involved, and starts, and ends ("sinks") lower than the last.
    • Play Walking Down The Hillside at Cortona, and Seeing its Towers Rise Before Me
  • Improvisation I: Dein Kuss (2004/02/98)

  • Lost & Found Things #2 (2008)

  • Fantasy-Passacaglia 1 (after Hall & Oates) (2010)

    • for: solo piano
    • duration: 6'
    • Play Fantasy-Passacaglia On a Theme of H&O
    • The Fantasy-Passacaglia, like my earlier piece Balladei, is obsessively grown from a 2-chord motive --- in this case a ii42 - i9 jazz progression, found in all manner of popular musics, though I happened to notice it in a classic of Hall & Oates while browsing around on Youtube one day. Not much else to say about the piece--it's a playful, mercurial romp.
  • Ditty (2007)

  • Sonata (2006)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 40'
    • Sonata is a work with a long gestation . . . first sketches (for the exposition of the first movement) were laid down some time in 1993-4, and have remained largely unchanged. In 1996-7, versions of the rest of movement 1, and of movements 2-4, were composed. In 2000, the first movement was engraved with Finale, and some musical revisions and touches added. Finally, in 2005-6, the second movement was almost completely re-composed, the third was left largely intact, and the 4th was heavily revised. The first movement is something of a joyous homage to the sounds of Stravinsky's neo-classicism; the 2nd movement was originally composed in a sort of "style variation" format such as that encountered in Rzewski's People United variations, but in the new version, the changes of style and changes of variation are out of phase with one another (for the most part). (The hidden theme is based upon a popular song from the '60s). The 3rd movement is a playful dance-like thing, its "recapitulatory" sections tend to devolve into chaos, a formal characteristic it shares with the Rond Finale.
    • Play Sonata, Mv1 LIVE!!
    • Play Sonata, Mv2 LIVE!!
    • Play Sonata, Mv3 LIVE!!
    • Play Sonata, Mv4 LIVE!!
    • Score of I
    • Score of II
    • Score of III
    • Score of IV
    • Play Sonata Mv1
    • Play Sonata Mv2
    • Play Sonata Mv3
    • Play Sonata Mv4
  • Balladei (2005)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 23'
    • NOTE:
      Balladei is a densely detailed work. It may help to approach it little by little: spend 15 minutes with just the first minute or two, then another 15 focusing on a passage later on in the work, then skip to the end and explore there, then focus on a passage towards the middle, and so on. Keep rewinding, listening into the deliciousness of the moments. As you get to know the work, you can take in longer stretches, making sense of them gradually. Since this kind of listening creates discontinuities in what is ultimately continuous, I have opted to counteract this tendency by not breaking it into internal tracks. As listeners on our CD players and iPods, our rewinding, fast-forwarding, and pausing will break the continuity, always slightly differently...
      In Balladei, 2 "virtual ensembles" that complement the piano contribute to a (perhaps) quasi-medieval sound: the first, featuring sad recorders, bell-like sounds, and piercing viols, the other made up of honking crumbhorns, some kind of log drum, and lutes. They are tuned in 17 Equal Temperament and 29 Equal Temperament, respectively, which means that at times they mesh well with the piano, and at other times deliciously sour combinations result. Skin drums, woodblocks, cymbals, tam-tams and gongs contribute to a bizarre ritual-like atmosphere.
      Balladei will often seem completely abstract, shifting mood and manner rapidly and continuously; on the other hand, a "ballad" is a story, and occasionally, the music lingers for a moment on a narratively suggestive meter, texture or mood. For example, one might hear the solo piano opening (:08-1:06) as a kind of pastorale. The first extended "solo" of the electronic sounds (featuring the recorders and viols) might be heard as a kind of inebriated dream sequence (3:33-4:25). Clear triple meter occasionally breaks in to suggest dances--a formal Elizabethan thing (4:48-5:28), a funeral march (5:29-5:55), (the funereal rhythm outlined primarily by the bass drum), and later in the piece, a crazy rapid jig (11:18 and then at 11:56 - 13:39). At 14:04 - 16:02, another episode of intoxication occurs, as our pianist bangs and shapes clusters played off against muddy clouds of tones in the electronics, perhaps suggesting that the drunken hero of the story mouthed off to someone s/he shouldn't have. This builds to a frightful bar-room brawl, interrupted suddenly as the scene gives way to an odd kind of religious enlightenment: the honky crumbhorns become chanting monks in the low register (16:18 - 17:45).
      Throughout the work, the pianist is not so much in the role of traditional virtuosic soloist towering above the "orchestra" of electronic sounds (although the part is difficult and requires intense concentration and attention to detail), but rather, the soloist is like a (sometimes petulant) child, cradled by the electronic sounds constantly surrounding her, sometimes responding to them, other times leading the them to new places, or bursting free of them.
    • Play Balladei, LIVE!!
    • NOTE FOR PERSPECTIVES OF NEW MUSIC CD:
      In Balladei, 2 "virtual ensembles" that complement the piano contribute to a (perhaps) quasi-medieval sound: the first, featuring sad recorders, bell-like sounds, and piercing viols; the other, made up of honking crumbhorns, some kind of log drum, and lutes. They are tuned in 17 Equal Temperament and 29 Equal Temperament,respectively. Because these 2 virtual ensembles are treated as "equals" with the piano, there are frequent "solos" for them throughout the work. The piano, however, has the first and last words, beginning and ending the work with a solo. Thus, the pianist is not so much in the role of traditional virtuosic soloist towering above the "orchestra" of electronic sounds; but rather, the soloist is like a (sometimes petulant) child, cradled by the electronic sounds constantly surrounding her, sometimes responding to them, other times leading them to new places, or bursting free of them.
      The work is built out of 1 small "syntax fragment"--the "double-leading tone" and/or "Landini" cadence formula utilized by many medieval and later composers (for example, Machaut.) This fragment is expanded into "chains" of cadences, especially in the 17-Equal and 29-Equal ensembles. These "chains" are then (often) treated as serial objects--transposed around, and their pitch-classes sometimes sprayed around and sculpted to form textures, melodies, etc. The careful listener will hear medieval cadences all over the place on the foreground of the music--often these foreground cadences cut across and through the layers of "cadence chains" that underlie the background structure.
      Thus, the work can be heard as a twisted mish-mash of fragmented medieval-European musical syntax, but, because of the nature of these materials (i.e. lots of fifths), one hears hints, throughout, of other kinds of music as well: "Americana" a la Barber or Copland, North Indian Shenai music, Elizabethan dance music, Irish jigs, and so on.
    • Score
  • Fireflies Music (2017)

    • for: Piano, Viola, Flute, Clarinet, Electronics
    • duration: 15'
  • GroundWork Music (2017)

    • for: Live Computer Music (or Fixed Media)
    • duration: Unlimited / 40'
  • Guitar Book (2015)

    • for: 10-string Guitar
    • duration: 30'
    • Dedicated to Carsten Radtke
    • work-in-progress
  • Karndaa (2015)

    • for: piano, flute, violin, clarinet
    • duration: 15'
    • This is a collection of pieces, which can be re-ordered or played simultaneously via pre-recorded performances. There is a piano-violin duet, 2 piano solos, and the main central work, a trio for violin, flute, and clarinet. It is based on analyses of recordings of violist Leanne King's car made in October 2014 in Michigan. From these analyses was extracted a cantus firmus of sorts, with a specific irregular rhythm. The cantus underlies all of the pieces, and can often be heard being intoned quite clearly in various instrumental formations.
  • Empty Theater, Quasi-Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra (2014)

    • for: Piano, String Orchestra
    • duration: 30'
    • Play Empty Theatre / Piano Concerto
    • The Empty Theatre is one of a series of (large-ensemble) works, all based on dreams I had and wrote down in the late 80's and early 90's. In this case, the dream consisted of being in an empty theatre, accompanied by a terrifying sense of alone-ness ..... giving way, at some point, to the image of a ghost skeleton performing on the piano. These images served as the inspiration--but a tendency to explore ideas of "polymusics" and thick, multi-ensemble textures takes the piece to different places. For Parts 1 and 2, the string orchestra is divided into 5 "chamber groups" which, along with the solo piano, play different musics simultaneously (though certainly they come together at frequent dramatic and structural points). Part 1 is sparse and quiet, but probably much busier than my original dream-vision would have had it. And Part 2 is a massive expansion of the original "danse macabre" that I had in mind. In Part 3, the multi-ensemble textures disappear in favor of more direct and clarified materials, featuring slow-moving textures which are periodically punctuated by a delicate refrain. Twice in Part 3, we hear the labored squeaking of a Paris metro train, and following the second instance, the terrifyingly beautiful bells of Chartres cathedral. The work finally ends with a luminous piano solo.
    • Play Empty Theatre -- 6-Piano 'Les Noces' remix
  • Walls and Lattices (2013)

    • for: Piano, Violin, Cello, Flute, Electronics
    • duration: 20'
    • Various works for Collide-O-Scope's Walls and Lattices concert in NYC, May 2013
  • Microtonal Miniatures (2013)

    • for: Tape
    • duration: 2:17
    • These 2 works are brief compositions, working in 22-tone Equal Temperament and Just Intonation (respectively). I was also interested in seeing if I could get MIDI timbres to behave expressively and in a way that didn't cause the listener to cringe.
    • Play Dreamlet
    • Play Tetrachords Etude
  • Fantasy-Passacaglia 2 (after Hall & Oates) (2012)

  • Concrete SoundSpace (2011)

    • duration: ~
    • Made in collaboration with Brad Garton for Lincoln Center Festival 2000. Re-done as an interactive performance "instrument" for Collide-O-Scope concerts in 2011.
  • Urban Fountain (2011)

    • duration: ~
    • Composed to accompany video by artist Kichiiro Muto, as part of an installation.
  • Suite (Outlying Afterward) (2011)

    • for: Violin and Cello
    • duration: 6'
  • Obxy (2011)

    • for: Oboe and Xylophone
    • duration: 3.5'
  • Prelude-Fantasy on the So-Called Armageddon Chord (2011)

  • Harvest Kitchen II (2010-2016)

    • for: 4.1 or 8.1 channel tape
    • duration: 9'
    • The title of the work refers to the Harvestworks media center in New York City; I am grateful for a residency there that enabled the realization of Part I this composition. It also refers obliquely to a messy ex-housemate of mine, in whose house many of the sounds in this work were recorded.

      The speakers are divided into 4 groups (pairs, in an octophonic setting) surrounding the listeners. (In the stereo version, each pair is simply mixed in as a stereo file.) Taking after Elliott Carter's acoustic poly-ensemble conceptions, each group is treated as a separate instrument or ensemble, with its own musical materials (rhythmic, source and processual). During the course of the work, the speaker groups appear separately on occasion, but mostly combine with each other to form polyensembles: duos, trios, and tutti.

      In this work I made use of a software application I built, called the "musique concrete gesture engine." A composer enters data about sounds in a diverse concrete sound collection and then specifies musical gestures abstractly by creating parametric profiles called models. Models, realized as sequences of actual soundfiles via database queries, can be written out as mix-files which can then be displayed, modified, processed, and mixed with various audio processing and mixing tools (CMIX, MAX/MSP--OpenMusic, Ardour, Csound, small applications I programmed in Python, etc.). In this way, the submixes of the composition were created; these were then stitched together and processed using ProTools.

    • (Slated to appear on a forthcoming album of acousmatic pieces.)
  • The Celestial ToyMaker (2010)

    • for: Percussion Quartet
    • duration: 7'
    • This work is comprised of various patterns of rhythm and movement, intertwining in time and space, like a whirbling (sic) mechanical contraption. The most obvious patterns may be the movement of the musicians on the stage: the instruments are arranged in a spiral. 3 of the musicians move along the spiral, into and out of it, proceeding instrument by instrument, stopping and playing for a while at each station. A 4th musician acts (often) as a "conductor", laying down a basic pulse.
  • Processional (2010)

    • for: multiple winds, 6 violins and/or violas, keyboards, high C# drone instruments.
    • duration: 10'
  • Divertimento in Eb (2009)

    • duration: 8'
    • This is a short companion piece to my longer works in the "Harvest Kitchen" series; it uses the same bank of found sounds. The title is more or less self-explanatory. Processing was accomplished with Audiosculpt, MAX/MSP, and various plugins in ProTools, where the piece was mixed. I also used my own found-sound database gesture generation software, in combination with the Ardour mixing application. This is a short companion piece to my longer works in the "Harvest Kitchen" series; it uses the same bank of found sounds. The title is more or less self-explanatory. It features the nutty gestures, off-kilter yet strangely haunting harmonies, and emotive melodrama characteristic of much of my work.
    • (To appear on a forthcoming album of acousmatic works.)
  • Meditation 4 (2009)

  • Viento de una Tierra Lejana (2009)

    • for: vihuela (Spanish Renaissance lute)
    • duration: 4'
  • Prelude to Southside (2009)

    • duration: ~1 hour
  • Columbus Day (2009)

    • duration: 15-25'
    • John Cage taught us that because absolute silence does not exist, for the music listener, periods of non-intention come to be defined as silence. But he also taught us to listen to those non-intended sounds as music in and of themselves. This piece was part-composed, part-"discovered", listening-in to a minute or so of granulated, stretched non-intention, the "silence"in a hallway. The title refers to the time of completion of the composition, as well as the idea of discovering something that had always been there, or something that had, in fact, already been discovered.
    • Play Columbus Day
  • SL III: Trio (2008/1999)

    • for: piano, clarinet, 'cello
    • duration: 40'
    • The Trio, capstone of the SL series, is the most deeply felt. Whereas Ooogaah borders on the ridiculous at times, and Conceptual Study is almost 'poppy' in sound, The Trio is a more mystical, spiritual, private experience, journeying through landscapes of delicately orchestrated timbres and harmonies. It erupts, at times, into ferocious rage and explosive gesture, but then just quickly subsides into zen-like tranquility.

      The material of the piece is poured into a formal mold suggested by Pink Floyd's famed Dark Side of the Moon album: there are 9 movements (or sections), which run together, separated into 2 large parts; Part II begins with the 'funkiest' (i.e. dance-like) section of the piece, followed by the most envelopingly ambient section; there is a kind of 'refrain' sequence of harmonies that recurs, especially throughout Part I--these are some of the correspondences. In general, the 2 works don't sound alike at all on the immediate surface, but one can hear their similarity in terms of form.

      The SL series (which includes the computer-music works Ooogaah: Dungeony Specimen Spaceship, and Conceptual Study) are all related by emphasizing a single rich, complex harmony, based on a root of F. In the Trio, this harmony becomes a "virtual drone"--a drone which is never explicitly or directly intoned, but through and against which the instruments weave lines, counterpoint and harmony. In other words the upper partials and harmonics of this drone 'infiltrate' the otherwise abstract pitch material built by and for the instruments. This sounds like a technical description, and it is a technical description. However, for me, it is a deeply intuitive way of 'feeling' my way through the music--of knitting, plaiting, folding, and twining the music into existance.

    • ALTERNATE PROGRAM NOTE: My Trio, the third part of the 'SL series' (which also includes Oogaaah: Dungeony Specimen Spaceship and Conceptual Study, 2 works for recorded computer-music), is itself divided into 2 parts. Part II will be heard tonight. Part II begins with various funky polyrhythms in the 3 instruments, with a focus on the piano. After a moment of extreme chaos, and a few moments of 'chanting', the music settles into a slow, multi-pulsating harmonic glow, where it stays for some time. Silence and some vague muttering ensue. After that, it becomes difficult to describe the music sectionally. A few guideposts to listen for include: a series of glissandi in cello and clarinet (accompanied by clusters in the piano), followed by a shattering climax; a bit later on, a warm, C major-ish harmony becomes a kind of refrain: the music moves away from this harmony, and then quickly returns, away and return, again and again, almost like a kind of rondo form. Towards the end of the piece, the music becomes ever more meditative, many triads and other "echoes of the familiar" are touched; the final gesture of the work is a quasi-medieval fade-out.

    • ALTERNATE NOTE: My Trio, the third part of the 'SL series' (which also includes Oogaaah: Dungeony Specimen Spaceship and Conceptual Study, 2 works for recorded computer-music), is itself divided into 2 parts. Part II will be heard tonight. I took the song structure of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album, and used it as a kind of empty husk in which to pour new musical material. Hence, Part II of the piece corresponds to "Side 2" of the album. But, aside from correspondences of tempo, you probably won't hear much that reminds you of Floyd's style. (Although I do feel like the slow section of this piece has a similar vibe to the corresponding song "Us and Them"). I seem to have written music that I can describe sectionally. This may be helpful to a first time listener, so here goes: It (Part II) begins with dance-like material and various funky polyrhythms. After a moment of extreme chaos, and a few moments of 'chanting', the music settles into a slow, multi-pulsating harmonic mush. Silence ensues. Quiet, chaotic whispers arise out of the nothingness and grow. The music tilts, veers and rocks back and forth; we hear long glissandi in the cello and clarinet, thick cluster chords in the piano; finally there is a pronounced climax, followed by spastic aftershocks. We seem to settle for a short while in F major (the "key" of the principal harmony in all of the SL works), but we veer away again, and after a time settle on a warm C major harmony. Things seem to try to move away from this harmony, but always return shortly.
  • Dream Mornings (2008)

    • for: orchestra
    • duration: 12'
    • Dream Mornings is one of a series of works, all based on vivid dreams I had when I was between the ages of 14 and 17 or thenabouts. The dreams that this work was based on had this distinct "morning" feeling to them. Inevitably, as works of art evolve and grow, the initial inspirations for them become encrusted or buried under further musical developments. Varese once said something like, "the work is complete only when the initial idea is destroyed." I wouldn't go that far in this case--the "morning-feeling" still comes through, particularly in the soft opening, and especially in certain of the harmonies throughout the work--but it is often overwhelmed by waves of musical climax which threaten to engulf the work with their voracious power. But they always subside in the end, receding without ever quite achieving their goal. In that sense, the piece is like that period at the end of sleep, right before waking, where violent dreams intersect with the peace of the morning.
    • Score
    • Un-premiered
  • To Those Who Would Crush My Will (2008)

  • Thanksgiving (2008)

    • for: ambient sound application/installation
    • duration: ~
  • Mozsdtream (2008)

    • for: clarinet and bassoon
    • duration: 5?
  • The Mask of Mandragora (2007)

    • for: percussion trio
    • duration: 10'
  • Meditation 3 (2007)

  • Harvest Kitchen I (2007)

    • for: 4.1 or 8.1 channel tape
    • duration: 18'
    • (See the notes for Harvest Kitchen II).
  • Leo's Music (2007)

    • for: toy piano
    • duration: 4'
  • Can't Sleep (2007)

    • for: 19-tone equal Trumpet
    • duration: 4'
    • Vaguely reminiscent of Alban Berg in it's rhetoric and a/tonal-ness, wending it's way through a serious of moods and masks.
    • Play Can't Sleep
    • Commissioned and performed by Steven Altoft.
  • Aftermath (2006)

    • duration: 10'
    • What happened? How did. . . . ? Something must have . . .?
    • Play Aftermath
  • Waltz in 17-tet (2006)

  • Out Of (2006)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 9'
    • Out Of was composed in 2006 for Marilyn Nonken, and is dedicated to her and her striking piano style, which I have come to know after hearing her play many concerts of new music in New York City and elsewhere. The experience of listening to Out Of might be like several cycles of a huge wave, arising from depths to the highest heights, and plunging back down again, rising again and falling, and so on. It is an episodic journey, travel over harmonic terrain, but with frequent 'stops' or 'delays' where one enjoys the local topography in a particular area. Commercial samplers are usually created out of a bank of carefully recorded, systematically organized samples of a particular instrument. The sample banks I used for Out Of are purposefully inconsistent and "dirty", bringing to the table, with each note in the musical flow, different levels of background noise, different senses of space, and so on. I find a gritty, tactile beauty in the shifting qualities (sometimes seemingly 'ugly') of these sound materials.
    • Play Out Of
  • Abstraction 1 (2005/1995)

    • for: violin
    • duration: 6'
    • This is an old piece, originally for violin solo, that I have re-worked thoroughly. It is a kind of meditation consisting of gentle, wide-ranging, isolated melodic fragments, over various drones.
    • Play Abstraction 1
  • Bob Dylan Arrangements I: John Wesley Harding (2005)

    • for: baritone and piano
    • duration: 2'
  • Abstraction 6 (2005)

    • for: alto sax
    • duration: 7'
    • PROGRAM NOTE: Other than being a somewhat twisty, ornate melodic line over a slower-moving accompaniment, this work explores a kind of "crystallized" Just Intonation, where chords in the accompaniment "crystallize" in Just Intonation around important notes in the saxophone part (which is tuned in the familiar 12-tone equal temperament).
    • PERFORMER NOTE: The electronic accompaniment engages in a kind of "crystallized" Just Intonation: the performer should perform in 12 equal-divisions-of-the-octave tuning, as usual. The sounds in the computer-generated part, however, will often "crystallize" around important pitches in the saxophone part. For example, in measure 9, the saxophone plays concert C, while the tape plays a Just 7th chord around C-as-5/4 of Ab. In measures 17-18, the sax plays concert C#5; the computer-music plays a 5:6:7:9 Just harmony, tuning to the sax as the "7" in that chord. And so on.
    • Play Abstraction 6
  • Nanosymph (2005)

    • duration: 1'
    • This is a 4 movement symphony in 1'. Allegro, Scherzo, Adagio, Presto.
    • Play NanoSymph
  • MekJoy (2005)

    • duration: 7'
  • The Quiet Play of Busy Pipes (2004)

    • for: piano, violin, 'cello, flute, electric guitar, percussion, live electronics (MAX/MSP)
    • duration: 15'
    • The Quiet Play of Pipes, while not always so quiet, is based on the sounds of the distant, ghost-like, whirring of pipes in the A/C networks, and the various soda-machine areas of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I've always had a weird fascination for these sounds, because they seem to imply worlds beyond, pregnant with energy, waiting to burst forth---as if breaking open a pipe would unleash a stream of violent anti-matter unto an unsuspecting universe, or opening a Coke machine would let in an intense all- revealing white light.
      The sounds of these pipe-drones become, (through spectral analyses and manipulations on the computer), the bases of harmony in the instrumental and computer parts.
    • Play The Quiet Play of Pipes
    • Score
  • Garden Of Love (2004)

    • for: piano & alto/mezzo-soprano
    • duration: 4?
  • Quiet Play of the City's Busy Lights on my Grandmother's Bedroom Ceiling (2003/2000)

    • for: violin, ?cello, piano
    • duration: 20'
    • When I was a child, I would occasionally stay in the city at my grandmother's high-rise apartment. At night, the shades were drawn--but not quite all of the way--and I lay on the bed, drifting towards sleep. On the ceiling, circles, rectangles, and vague spots of light--their sources far below on the ground (moving cars, buses, stationary street lamps, blinking lights of various kinds)--played and moved around each other, forming an alternate universe of color and motion above my head. It was a quiet scene, and yet, I felt there was an inner noise to the busy-ness of it all. In this composition, that tension between peace and nervous energy eventually steers the music in unexpected, even violent directions--like the experience of falling asleep quietly, drifting (or falling) into frightening or nightmarish scenarios--and then, finally, back into peaceful ones.
  • In Memoriam Lou Harrison (2003)

    • duration: 2'
    • Composed using various tetrachords, taken from John Chalmers' Lou Harrison-inspired tome, Divisions of the Tetrachord.
    • Play In Memoriam Lou Harrison
  • Scrape (2003)

    • duration: 6'
  • Movement for String Orchestra (2003)

    • for: standard string orc
    • duration: 15'
  • 3 Haiku (2002/1991)

    • for: soprano and piano
    • duration: 5'
  • 2 Songs For Children (2002/1991)

    • for: soprano and piano
    • duration: 5'
  • Sand (2002)

    • duration: 25'
    • Play SAND
    • PROGRAM NOTE: Sand engaged nearly all of my divergent musical interests at the time of its composition. It explores musique concrete and it's relation to musical gesture (using a found-sound gestural database engine I programmed), as well as relating a music of found sounds to a "structural-pitch" music. This pitch structure is microtonal: 19-tone equal-temperament in the active sections, Just Intonation during periods of momentary stasis. The work exists in an interactive version (see my article on the work in the periodical Organised Sound) which relates it in certain ways to urban hip-hop culture and electronica, as well as to processes and textures of minimalism. The drones that are always under-, over- or mid-lying its active counterpoint were inspired by the drones that underlie North or South Indian improvised music. Finally, to realize the "structural-pitch" layers of the music, I created a motley, grungy set of "virtual instruments" using uneven collections of samples and simple combinations of time-varying filtering and additive synthesis algorithms. Although the 25' work has a large arc which one can certainly sense over its course, it is above all a celebration of intense detail, where individual events are most reluctant to sacrifice their individuality to overriding curves of loudness, register and density. Because of this detailed intensity, it can be somewhat exhausting to listen to. For a first listening, I would recommend simply focusing on the drones in the background, which move slowly through the piece.
    • DIFFUSION NOTE: Sand was conceived as contrapuntal in multiple overlapping fashions: there are 6 registral lines, 4 different "virtual instruments", 6 different loudness levels and 6 different stereo sound-sources, (additionally, "reverberated" or "spatialized" sound events, and "dry" or "in-your-face" sound events form two opposing contrapuntal layers). For it's first multichannel performance (in Cincinnati, 2003), it was diffused/folded into a standard 4-channel format, a but a 12-channel system would be optimal.
    • OTHER NOTE: The work Sand is a computer-music composition which can be realized/experienced in 2 ways. It can be played as a complete piece, either in stereo (such as on the enclosed CD), or for a multi-channel setup (an 8-channel rendering was offered at the Harvest Moon Festival of MultiChannel Electroacoustic Music in Montreal, September 25, 2005.) In this form, it has a duration of 25'. Sand is also written to be experienced privately and interactively by a listener, via a computer-music interface. A paper ("An Interface for 'flat music'", published in Organized Sound 9(3)) describes this interface, and the aesthetic and technical reasons for its existence. Briefly, I wanted to create a way to experience a dense, complex composition as a kind of sculpture, "out-of-time", similar to the way we experience visual arts. Listeners can download the interface and experience the work in this way by going to http://music.columbia.edu/~chris/sand.html.
  • Motet (2002)

    • for: 6 mezzi-soprani
    • duration: 7'
  • Improvisation II: Kiss of the Gamelan Goddess (2001)

    • for: any
    • duration: 5'
  • 8 Terrains (2001)

    • for: 2 keyboards/pianos, 2 guitars, 2 saxes, bass, live electronics (MAX/MSP)
    • duration: 8'
    • 8 Terrains was composed as a constrained improvisation work for fellows at the Music Omi collaborative music colony in upstate New York. Various processes make their way through the piece, including one overall process where rhythms go from (at the beginning) very 17th-century French-overture-like, to (at the end) smooth continuous 8th and 16ths. The number 8 refers to 8 basic harmonies that the piece moves through.
    • Play 8 Terrains
  • Piano Piece For Four Performers (2001)

    • for: piano, 4 performers
    • duration: 5'
  • Abstraction 4 (2000/1997)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 4'
    • Vast landscapes. Tangled clumps of beach bush roots.
    • Play Abstraction 4
  • Sacremento Mornings (2000)

    • for: soprano and piano
    • duration: 20'
  • Terabyte Breakfast (2000)

    • duration: 7'
  • Castrovalva (2000)

    • for: 5-5-4-4-3 or more
    • duration: 8'
  • Timelash (2000)

    • for: violin, clarinet, ?cello, piano
    • duration: 8'
    • Timelash was written in 1999 as a kind of antidote to another work of mine, SL III: Trio, which is a long, mostly slow composition. Timelash proceeds rapidly, sometimes repetitively, in jolts and fits and starts, beeping out quasi-morse code rhythms, and occasionally colliding its instruments into scrunching climaxes. It also explores resonance: a chord is depressed silently by the pianist at the beginning of the work, and is allowed to resonate for the duration of the composition. I was very careful about the sounds of the harmonies in the work, though sometimes they whiz by too rapidly to follow the detail.
    • Play Timelash
    • How did I write it?
    • Watch Timelash LIVE with Collide-o-Scope
  • SL I: Conceptual Study (1999)

    • duration: 8'
    • This work places a popular song atop a chorus from a Verdi opera. The resulting mush is then "windowed", some of these resulting windows are expanded in time, via delays and spectral re-synthesis. Various other elements make their way into the piece from time to time.
  • She (1998)

    • for: 2-2-2-2, 2-2-2-1, 2, harp, piano, str
    • duration: 10'
  • State of Emergency: MaKe Contact with 372 Myriad Galaxies (1998)

    • for: violin, viola, ?cello, bass, flute, clarinet, trombone
    • duration: 45'
    • This vast tapestry for chamber ensemble remains unfinished. Half of it was performed by Ensemble FA in 1998. Someday I hope to extensively revise that half and complete the rest of the work.
  • 58 Pieces for Children (1997)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 30'
  • Duude (1997)

    • duration: 10'
    • Duude was made from raw samples taken from an apartment in New York City, in which I lived for 3 years. As with it's predecessor ("Ow, My Head"), it makes scant use of any signal processing algorithms, instead relying on the (hopefully) musical successions of sounds, and the rhythms and spectral play of the intertwined and juxtaposed recorded samples.
  • Aurora (1997)

    • for: chorus, ensemble and jazz band. 12 soprani, 12 altos, 6 tenors, 6 basses, 12 speaking voices, harp, 2 tubas, 2 trumpets, 2 marimbas, 2 vibes, jazz band, (el-guitar, el-bass, traps, 2 trumpets (also in main ensemble)
    • duration: 20'
  • Duet Suite (1997)

    • for: oboe, bassoon
    • duration: 30'
  • Enchanted Quaaludes (1996)

    • for: flute, clarinet, percussion
    • duration: 6'
  • Miniature (1996)

    • for: mandolin, harp, vibraphone
    • duration: 1?
  • After the "Just Friends" Speech (1996)

    • for: oboe
    • duration: 5'
  • The Selfish Giant, Version 2 (1996)

    • for: flute, clarinet, trumpet, viola, guitar, percussion
    • duration: 15'
  • The Selfish Giant, Version 0 (1996)

    • for: flute, ondes martenot, trumpet, viola, 2 harps
    • duration: 15'
  • Untitled 1994/96 (1996)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 6'
    • Here are a few things about this piece, which, listening for them the first time through, might spice up the experience a bit: The piece falls into a kind of pattern: fast (or at least dense) for a while - empty space - majesterial stasis - whispy mysterious lament tune, dying away; return (sort of) to the opening material - move to the center. There is a lot of exploration of resonance in the piece--use of middle pedal and sustain pedal in various combinations to hold chords and colors through. There is also a lot of dense, overlapping counterpoint going on in various parts, and I sometimes wondered if it was worth it to have that sort of material on such a homogeneous instrument like the piano. But, as Shiau-Uen was recording this work in the studio, I realized that this almost-impossible density of counterpoint really made for an audible experience, created a wild spindly tangliness which brought me great joy to hear.
    • Play Untitled
  • Ow, my head (1996)

    • duration: 7'
    • Ow, My Head was written, mostly, with the MIX program on SGI machines, in 1996. The goal here was to make a convincing piece with little or no signal processing, reverb, or anything other than just raw samples. Because of this lack of sophisticated DSP or algorithmic procedures, it may seem to make scant use of the computer's capabilities, aside from being an alternative to traditional tape splicing, but even in that seemingly small capacity the computer makes a huge and musically exploitable leap over previous mechanical methods. Therefore, in a subtle but definite way, the computer was absolutely necessary to the realization of this piece.
  • 6 Songs on Poems of John Monroe (1996)

    • for: soprano, oboe, trombone, guitar (sometimes amplified)
    • duration: 20'
  • Orgasm (Act) (1996)

    • for: 2 'celli
    • duration: 7'
  • Abstraction 3 (1996)

    • for: flute
    • duration: 3'
  • Abstraction 5 (1996)

    • for: viola
    • duration: 6'
  • Array of Songs (1995)

  • Going Out of Whack (suite) (1995)

    • for: piano
    • duration: 10'
  • Abstraction 2 (1995)

  • Sands (1993)

    • for: amplified trio: piano, bass trombone, violin
    • duration: 20'
  • 12 Angry Notes (1993)

  • Grandad's Orchard (1993)

    • for: soprano and piano, possibly in Just Intonation
    • duration: 5'
  • Winds (1993)

    • for: soprano and piano
    • duration: 5'
  • Miniature (1993)

    • for: trumpet and piano
    • duration: 2?
  • The Selfish Giant, Version 1 (1992)

    • for: flute, oboe, trumpet, viola, 2 harps
    • duration: 15'
  • 4 Love Songs (1991)

    • for: soprano and piano
    • duration: 15'
  • Meditation 1 (1991)

    • for: piano and violin
    • duration: 6'