Electroacoustic & Mixed Media
Edge of Sound
1 string instrument (violin, viola, cello or bass) and interactive electronics (2015-16)
Duration: variable (ca. 8')
Edge of Sound explores the boundaries between audible and inaudible or imagined sounds. The piece is inspired in part by the phenomenon of a slowly decaying sound, like that of a bell or gong, that fades so gradually it becomes difficult to discern the exact point at which the sound has completely stopped.
Things you remember, things I forget
Fixed stereo electronics for Headphones (2014)
Duration: variable (Total: 5' 25")
Premiered at the Backpack Gallery in Old Town Alexandria in June 2014
These five pieces are fragments of personal sonic memories and favorite sounds, paired with surrealistic impressions of everyday sounds (rain, children in a playground, etc). The pieces are meant to be played in any order over headphones, ideally while walking around in an urban environment. The sounds are selected and mixed so the piece would work in two ways: 1) give the feeling of looking at an old, faded photograph through smoke glass, or hearing in one's mind the echo of a distant memory, and 2) create an environment that is simultaneously immersive and open to, or suggestive of its surroundings (in this case, the various outdoor locations of this exhibit).
Cafe features the sounds of a seashell wind chime. I've been obsessed with this sound and variants of it for well over a decade. They manage to find their way into many of my projects. I find them rich with complexity, yet somehow simple and beautiful beyond expression. These sounds are framed by a recording I made of the background din at a coffeeshop while working on these pieces.
Seashore # 1 & Seashore # 2 are based on excerpts from a reading of Samuel Beckett's Ohio Impromptu that was done for a dance project I worked on two years ago. In addition to the fond memories of working on the project, I especially fell in love with the sound of one the lines and the way it was read. These are framed by sounds that are suggestive of waves or wind or planes overhead.
Playground & Rain are based on two childhood songs that I chose because of their immediate familiarity to me and because I especially like the sound of a few words in the lyrics of one and the imagery that the other has always inspired in me. These are songs that I've always only heard without ever seeing the singer perform them, so my relationship with them is purely sonic. I chose to frame these two with sounds that are also very immediate, the sound of rain and the sound of schoolchildren in a playground.
4 Sketches of a Tibetan Prayer Bell
Fixed stereo electronics (2013)
Duration: variable (Total: 6' 41")
The piece is based on the sound a Tibetan prayer bell that I acquired on a recent trip to Nepal. I restricted myself to using only sounds that were sampled from the bell that I, then processed with a variety of effects. The approach I took here represents a departure from the usually more open-ended pieces that I write in that it's through composed and entirely fixed.
Smriti - that which is remembered
1 soloist (any instrument) and electronics (both live and fixed) (2011)
Duration: variable (ca. 10')
Smriti was premiered at the joint ICMC | SMC | 2014 Conference in Athens, Greece
Smriti is for one soloist (any instrument) and electronics (both live and fixed). The piece deals with the idea of memory and change or transformation. The fixed electronics are generated from recordings that the performer makes during the rehearsal/preparation process. This layer represents the long-term memory or history of the piece. The performer and live electronics represent the short-term memory and the present state of the piece. The performance is an exploration of the history and the continuing evolution of sonic world that the performer creates using the given framework.
The piece revolves around a few unique and readily identifiable sonic events that are repeatedly presented and modified in various ways throughout a given performance. The performer creates the events based on a thorough knowledge of their instrument and a desire to explore new sonic and performance possibilities with that instrument. Events can be anything: a distinct sound, a gesture, a particular articulation, technique, etc, as long as they remain identifiable throughout the performance. Transformations are considered a change of one or more parameters of the event in some direction (increasing, decreasing, etc), for instance, increasing how noisy an event might become, or decreasing the number of fingers pressed, or the amount of air being blown into an instrument, etc.
1 percussionist, 1 performer of any sustaining instrument and interactive electronics (2007)
Duration: variable (ca. 10')
Abeyance was the 1st Place Winner, 2008 Ossia International Composition Prize; Rochester, NY
Abeyance sets up a system in which various elements act on one another in non-linear and often unpredictable ways, giving rise to complex patterns not necessarily apparent or inherent in the individual elements. The system is not the total sum of its parts. The elements of the system (two performers and computer) are governed by relatively simple rules with varying degrees and types of interactivity. No single element ever has total control over the outcome of those rules or any means by which they can know exactly how their individual behavior impacts that of the system. Certain aspects of the piece are pre-composed but much is left open. The form of Abeyance emerges through performance and each iteration will be a unique event that cannot be reproduced. The form and the sonic manifestation of a particular performance are, therefore, ephemeral by nature. This emergence invites the performer and the listener to a process of exploration. In the words of John Cage, the work becomes an opportunity for perception.
For 1 or more percussionists and 4 loudspeakers (2006)
Duration: variable (ca. 10')
(in)difference/s deals with the notion of emergence as seen in systems where complex patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. There is at least five components (1 or more interpreters and 4 loudspeakers) fixed in physical space cycling through sound objects of limited sonic material in random order. The five are not coordinated but simply coexist in the space, which is a different level of interaction aided by the limited scope of the sonic material. The electronic sounds are pre-composed, but their order is random. The interpreter creates his/her sounds in real-time using various traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments. They have the option to interact with their environment or not. The work sets up an exciting situation with rich potential for unique formal explorations where interactions between sound objects may create fleeting moments of interest that have no history and are not obligated to lead anywhere specific.
For 2-channel tape alone (2005)
de/fragment/s is for tape alone, in stereo diffusion (speakers ideally placed behind the audience in a concert hall). The work addresses the concert hall setting or mode of presentation in its typical or standard format. It highlights the inherently fragmented nature of concerts: several works that may or may not be related are presented together. While we may take standard programming considerations into account, works on any given concert are typically not created with the specific intention of being presented together, yet we generally accept their coexistence in the frame of a concert without much resistance. de/fragment/s consists of seven sound rather short sound objects that may stand alone as miniature pieces. The objects are meant to be interspersed among the other works on a concert with the intention of creating a thread of continuity throughout the concert. de/fragment/s also deals with the idea of open form, here taken beyond the frame of the individual piece: the sound objects may be presented in any order and configuration with omissions and repetitions. It therefore presents a paradox in that a work that itself can be fragmented may bring cohesion to its larger context.
(audio coming soon)
For 4-channel tape alone (2003)
Duration: 17' 45"
Figer (pronounced Fee.jeh - French for ‘congeal’ or ‘coalesce’). The question of the perception of time is central to this piece, and is addressed in several ways. In one sense, the design of Figer is simple. There are three layers of activity, each dealing with time in its own way. The first layer (layer 1) consists of sounds that are heard from beginning to end with little or no change. It provides a sort of backdrop for the other two layers, which are generally more active. Each of those two (layers 2 and 3) is further broken into two parts, and each layer treats its parts in different ways. The two parts of layer 2 form a continuous ‘whole’ that is simply cut in two and separated, while the two parts of layer 3 are reiterations or restatements of the same general idea. At the heart of Figer, therefore, lies a constant process of presenting materials or ideas and immediately, or, at times simultaneously, commenting, reflecting on, or reinterpreting that material. All of the layers of this piece deal, both at local and global levels, with the concept of time and its perception relative to the materials, sonic or otherwise, that occupy it, and the manner in which these layers unfold and relate to each other.