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× First page of the score a brief comment on the current state of insanity.

Premiered by Elizabeth Crawford, clarinet and Katrin Meidell, viola. at the 2018 Ball State University Festival of New Music. Also performed at the 2019 SCI National Conference, Albuquerque, NM; the Women Composers of Hartford National Conference, Hartford, CT, 2019, by Nuveau Classical Ensemble; 2018 West Fork New Music Festival, by the Great Noise Ensemble.

NOTES: a brief comment on the current state of insanity (Feb. 2017) was composed in February through March of 2017 in response to several incidents, one of which was the 2017 inauguration and initial months of the administration of Donald Trump. The immediate and continued divide in the country was exhausting beyond belief, and urged a musical response, inadequate as it may be.

Alternate versions of a brief comment on the current state of insanity are available for clarinet and violin, and for clarinet and violoncello.

Comercial recordings of a brief comment on the current state of insanity are available. Click here for more information

Scores for a brief comment on the current state of insanity are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score (Almost) Like a Bat Out of Hell.

Commissioned and premiered by University of Iowa Wind Quintet at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA on October 28, 2001.

NOTES: (Almost) Like a Bat Out of Hell, was written at the request of the University of Iowa Woodwind Quintet, who wanted a short encore piece. The result is this short (3 minute) fast, and humorous work, based on a chromatic wedge.

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× First page of the score Archaeology.

Commissioned and premiered by Atelier Pélardy in Mansle, France on September 18, 2016.

NOTES: Archaeology was commissioned by Franck Leblois for a concert of works composed after paintings in an art exhibition. I chose the painting "Archaeology," by Jim Adams. It features two stylized dark burgundy figures buried in orange earth with a dark blue sky filling the top third of the canvas. The most striking thing about the painting is the four large blocks of color - two figures, the surrounding earth, and the strip of sky. I created three different gestural palettes–quick tongued notes alternating between ordinary tonguing and tongue tapping, multiphonics, and a melodic line–to represent the three colors.

Scores for Archaeology are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Beat It With a Stick.

Commissioned and premiered by DoublePlay: Steven Paysen and Dominic Donato, percussion on October 14, 2006 in New York, NY.

NOTES: Beat It With a Stick was written for Dominic Donato and Stephen Paysen in the spring of 2006. I have always loved writing for percussion as part of an ensemble, and for years have wanted to write an all un-pitched percussion work, but only this past year has the opportunity arisen. Although I have anticipated writing such a piece for a long time, when I actually started, I found it to be a much more difficult project that I had expected - my musical language is completely driven by gesture, but my ideas always begin with pitch. Additionally, I tend to use motives and exploit contour, which also made figuring out how to begin a difficult task. After about 3 months, however, I finally found a way into the sound world, and then everything fell into place. The piece is built out of several motives which get developed to some degree, passed among the instruments, and get used to create larger building blocks which drive the form. The larger building blocks consist of two types: static directionless statements, and multifaceted purpose driven statements. The two types are played off of each other over the course of the work, beginning with short motivic gestures and statements by the two percussionists playing in tandem, and increasing in density and energy to the end of work where two players ultimately part ways, one taking the static road, the other the more dynamic road.

Scores for Beat It With a Stick are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Blow.

Commissioned and premiered by for Ben Coelho on December 9, 2001 at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

NOTES: Blow, for solo bassoon, was commissioned by bassoonist Benjamin Coelho. Ben had discovered an extended technique which combines a multiphonic with a linear figure (a chromatic scale spanning a fifth, sounding over a bottom space A-flat). He had wanted a composer to use this particular sonic figure in a piece, so I agreed. Motivically the piece is based on two ideas: something increasing, and a lyrical tune which shows up about a third of the way into the piece. The increasing idea is manifested as a crescendo, usually in combination with a portamento between two notes, an accelerando, and an increase in use of registral span. Pitchwise the piece works its way through all twelve notes, spending time on each temporary “pitch center” in a sort of timbral variation, culminating on Ben’s invention. Overall the piece moves from the lowest note of the instrument to the highest (although this varies from player to player, Ben suggested high E as a safe note). The piece is to be played “maniacally.”

Comercial recordings of Blow are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Blow are available from TrevCo Music

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× First page of score the Blow It Again.

Commissioned and premiered by Ben Coelho and Franck Leblois at the Conservatoire Gabriel Faure, Angoulême, France on March, 2009.

NOTES: Blow It Again, these humorous five movements for bassoon duo explore different sonic aspects of the bassoon; multiphonics, helicopter tonguing, lyrical lines and counterpoint, and fast fingering exploiting the entire range of the instrument.

Scores for Blow It Again are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Chicago Chanson.

Written for and premiered by the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, May, 1992.

This work won an ASCAP Young Composers Award, 1992.

NOTES: The texts for Chicago Chansons were written for me by John Shreffier in the spring of 1992 under the title "tableaux". In setting these poems, I tried to capture the "essence" of each by exploring different relationships between the voice and the rest of the ensemble.

The vaguely surreal and atmospheric mood of the first poem, Lux, cal me, et volupte suggested a textural approach: here I treat the voice as an equal member of the ensemble - as "just another instrument" - with the words exploited mostly for their physical sounds.

The second, La ville lumiere, suggested a different process. I imagined sitting in the bar at the top of the Hancock Tower, looking down at the lights of the cars on Lake Shore Drive while hearing a jazz combo in the background. I created a collage of two opposing musical states: that of static and repetitive but slightly evolving musical objects as a background, on top of which I "pasted" a flexible vocal line. This song is to be heard with the sense of humor in which it was conceived.

Les jours s'en vont ... , the most dramatic of the three, finds recourse in the more traditional arrangement of soloist and accompanist. A pulsating ostinato accompaniment in the three instruments continues throughout the entire piece, but takes different forms for the different sections of the poem. As the poem describes transformation of land over time in the way a city springs up, covers up nature, and finally degrades, an evolution of the musical materials takes place but without losing their fundamental integrity. The final part of the song might be likened to a funeral dirge.

The two instrumental interludes help to connect the songs by further exploiting their musical materials.

Scores for Chicago Chanson are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Coriolis.

Commissioned by the SUNY Purchase Percussion Ensemble and the Oberlin Percussion Group. The piece was premiered in Oberlin, Ohio, April, 2007 and Purchase, NY, November, 2007.

NOTES: The Coriolis Effect is a “fictitious” force that is perceptible only to an observer on a rotating frame of reference, such as the earth. The Coriolis Effect, due to this force, is the apparent deflection of objects that are actually moving in a straight line in their own frame of reference. It is responsible for the direction of the rotation of cyclones (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere) and other extremely large air and water masses. While popular mythology claims that the Coriolis Effect is responsible for the direction water flows down the drain of a sink or toilet in the two hemispheres, the shape of the basin and direction the water enters the basin have a far greater effect than the earth’s rotation. The Coriolis Effect for Percussion Quartet employs apparent rotation of musical materials and bodies.

Scores for The Coriolis Effect are available from the composer.

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× First page of score the Double Indemnity.

Commissioned and premiered by Yu-Fang Chen and Mei-Chun Chen at the Thailand International New Music Festival on August 9, 2018.

NOTES: Double Indemnity takes its name from a clause found in life insurance policies, in which the company pays twice the face value of the policy if death is due to certain circumstances. This piece reverses that meaning…in this piece, there are two inputs but only one output, essentially halving the face value.

The idea for the piece is a machine that takes in two streams of materials, combines and processes them, and spits out a single uniform product. Occasionally the machine gets “stuck” and repeats a process unexpectedly (or perhaps by design) and then continues on.

The two raw materials (the violin and viola) begin offset rhythmically and by a step (sometimes a half step, sometimes a whole step) like two inputs. In the second measure the materials diverge a bit more: they move in opposite directions, one with fingered notes, the other with a gliss. The materials from this opening statement get processed into a single, less flexible, product. At the very end the players are instructed to sound like an accordion, a mechanized instrument with little pitch or timbral variety, unlike the violin and viola who provide materials to the machine.

Comercial recordings of Double Indemnity are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Double Indemnity are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Five Caricatures.

Commissioned and premiered by Yu-Fang Chen at a guest recital at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan, October 11, 2018.

NOTES: The individual movements of this work, Five Caricatures, are based on several of the original commedia dell'arte stock characters from the 16th through 18th centuries. During those centuries, theater groups, mostly made up of male actors, would travel around Europe presenting plays, often during the carnival season. The actors, wearing masks, would specialize in one or a few characters, and they would improvise their performances based on one of a few typical scenarios.

The movements of this work include (1) Colombina, a wily servant/lower class figure who always outsmarts the upper class through cunning; (2) Arlecchino (harlequin), another servant-class figure, and comic fool, who was often an acrobat; (3) Il Capitano (the swaggering captain) who brags about exploits abroad, though he runs from danger at home; (4) Pierrot (Pedrolino), or the sad clown, another servant character who is often the butt of Arlecchino's jokes, but is also the nicer, though dumber, of the two; and (5) Il Pantalone, an elderly Venetian merchant who is rarely comic, generally long winded, and prone to giving good advice. Pierrot is often sad because he pines for Colombina, who usually leaves him for Arlecchino.

Scores for Five Caricatures are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Game Plan.

Commissioned and performed by the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, Tim Weiss, conductor March 11, 2005. Finney Hall, Oberlin, OH.

NOTES: One night in June of 2004, as I was drifting of to sleep, I had a sonic “vision” of many instruments playing a specific descending figure, in different tempi, in a continuous cascade over an ostinato, resulting in a thick sound mass. This chunk of music occurs about three fourths through Game Plan – the rest of the piece was composed forwards and backwards from that segment. Although I did not set out to write a funny piece, the materials themselves, fairly banal and comical in isolation, inevitably led me to do so. The idea of juxtaposing musical figures in different speeds is presented at the very beginning and then continues in a unison line in which each beat is divided into a different number of subbeats (essentially different speeds) which leads eventually to entire bars and even longer spans proceeding at different tempi. The motive, which takes turns as a tune and as an accompaniment, turns into an ostinato which repeats ad naseaum. (A simple object can turn into something very different simply by repeating, in essence focusing a lens on its makeup – think of Satie, for example.) The ostinato then culminates in the parent tune piling up on itself, i.e. in the musical vision which precipitated the piece in the first place. Tim Weiss suggested that my original segment sounded like “a game,” thus giving me the idea for the title. Indeed the piece is about playing with time. The result is my “Game Plan.”

Scores for Game Plan are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Game Plan 2.

Game Plan 2 is an alternate version of Game Plan with no tuba or harp. Game Plan 2 was premiered at the Composers Conference in Wellesley, MA, on August 5, 2005. See Game Plan for notes.

Scores for Game Plan 2 are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Grates and Grills.

Commissioned by Amy Brandon for the 20th-Century Guitar Conference, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. Premiered August 25, 2019, Dominion-Chalmers, Ottawa, conducted by Jim Brady.

NOTES: Grates and Grills, exploits the different sound worlds that the two groups of guitars occupy. This difference is first explored by having the first chair players of each group play duets, offset rhythmically and by using quarter-tone tunings in a somewhat canonic fashion. One plays a short passage, and the other repeats it offset by a quarter tone. The two guitar groups also take on different tasks, one playing attacks while the other sustains. The acoustic guitars often morph from pitched material to noise material, in an analog to the way electric guitars can use distortion to change pitch to noise. The acoustic instruments are also often used to sustain pitches through tremolos, even though sustain is more a natural feature of electric guitars. At other times the two groups combine to create a new sound through their shared material.

Scores for Grates and Grills are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score In Memoriam.

Premiered by Luk' at the June in Buffalo Conference, June 2, 1992. This work was revised in 2012.

NOTES: In Memoriam was written during most of the 1990-1991 year. At that point in my graduate studies I was supposed to write a piece for solo piano. After several attempts I rejected the idea in favor of a work for horn and percussion - it seemed impossible to keep from falling into cliched gestures. After several more fruitless months, I realized that the musical ideas I wanted to work with were better suited for piano. Conceiving of gestures and sounds from a different instrumental viewpoint somehow allowed me to approach the piano from a fresh perspective. The piece is sectional and grows out of an opening 2-note statement that continually returns in various forms. It is dedicated to the memory of my father Manuel Kaplan, my grandmother Edith Rothstein, and the grandmother of a good friend, Isabella Costanza.

Scores for In Memoriam are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Insidious.

Written for and recorded by the California E.A.R. Unit. August 9, 2007. Arcosanti, AZ.

NOTES: Insidious started life with an explicit extramusical program when I was the recipient of some heinous behavior and wanted a way to channel my frustrations. The concert it was originally planned for was cancelled after I had only completed about two minutes, so I put the piece away, unsure if it would ever have a performance. After learning of a residency with the California Ear Unit, I resurrected the piece, shortened the original two-minute beginning, which now appears about 30 seconds in, and proceeded in an entirely new and more positive direction. The original title may no longer be relevant, but I liked the sound of it, so I kept it. The piece consists of drastically different types of musical gestures coexisting, breaking off and reappearing to take up lost threads later on, noise and jagged lines combined with romantic gestures, and allusions to real and remembered sounds.

Comercial recordings of Insidious are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Insidious are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Insolence.

Commissioned by Ketty Nez, piano and Katie Wolfe, violin for midwest tour of the Nez/Wolfe Duo. Premiered in Iowa City, January, 2008. This work has been performed over 8 times around the country, including in various national festivals.

NOTES: Insolence, for violin and piano, is a short work that explores ways of uniting the two instruments in gestural sympathy. I’ve always found it difficult to write for piano and a traditional solo instrument – the piano simultaneously threatens to overwhelm and to take a secondary role. Insolence is an attempt to find a common meeting ground.

Comercial recordings of Insolence are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Insolence are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Meditation on a Guitar.

Commissioned and premiered by Paul Reilly for a faculty recital at Ball State University, December 4, 2014. This work has been performed over ten times around the US in local, national, and international festivals.

NOTES: When my colleague, Paul Reilly, asked me to write him a piece, I had never written for guitar before. My harmonic language tends towards more dissonant intervals, such as seconds and tritones, which do not lie well on the guitar. After several false starts, I made peace with the harmonic preference of the instrument and decided to embrace the perfect fourth.

While struggling with the piece, I also had the image of Picasso's "The Old Guitarist" in my mind. The player is seated in a contorted position and suggests stasis rather than the motion that one would associate with the playing of an instrument. The contortion also seemed to mirror the struggle I was going through dealing with such an unfamiliar instrument. In concert with this duality, I decided to create a series of "expanded static moments” or "meditations," which focus in on several of the extended sounds the guitar can make, and which are connected by more harmonically active passages.

Comercial recordings of Meditation on a Guitar are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Meditation on a Guitar are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score No Free Lunch.

Commissioned by the University of Chicago to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first self-sustained nuclear reaction. Premiered December 2, 2017, Chicago, IL.

NOTES: No Free Lunch, for flute, percussion, and piano, was commissioned by the University of Chicago, Division of Humanities, for the University's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the first self-sustained nuclear reaction, Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1). I chose to focus on the actual reaction that takes place inside a nuclear reactor: Uranium 235 isotopes (U-235) are bombarded with neutrons, and when one is taken up into the isotope it momentarily becomes a U-236 isotope. The U-236 then fissions into two or sometimes three smaller elements, with differing degrees of probability. My work uses the atomic weights 235 and 236, as well 238, from the most common form of uranium, U-238, to generate pitch and rhythmic material. Resonating instruments in the percussion, and prodigious use of the sostenuto pedal in the piano, including generation of sympathetic harmonics, represent the radioactivity of these elements.

In this work I tried to capture the idea of various possibilities of the experiments: attempts which fizzled out because of the lack of enough free neutrons or U-235, an attempt which goes too far, resulting in uncontrolled fissioning (nuclear explosion), and finally, an attempt which is just right, resulting in a continuous, self-sustained, nuclear reaction. In reality, however, even getting it "just right" means having to deal with radioactive nuclear waste for many life times. There is "no free lunch."

Scores for No Free Lunch are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Over The Top.

Commissioned by the Meridian Trio (Davis Brooks, violin, Kurt Fowler, violoncello, and Rene LeCuona, pianoforte) for a midwest tour. Premiered October 2002, Iowa City, IA. This work has been performed over 8 times around the country by different ensembles.

NOTES: Over the Top is an exploration of gesture and large-scale form. On the surface, Over the Top is quite conventional: a moderately fast first movement, a slow second movement, a scherzo-like third movement, followed by a very fast fourth movement. All of the material is derived from the opening four-note cell (G, G#, F, A, or 0124), and the motives are introduced in the opening movement. The second, third and fourth movements each develop different ideas introduced in the first movement and are equally related to it – more like spokes on a wheel than a set of theme and variations, in which each variation moves farther and farther away from the theme. The second movement is a sort of gross expansion of the first movement. I conceived of it as two large phrases, although it uses more than just the opening material. The third movement, for solo piano, develops a small idea only presented twice in the opening movement. The fourth uses yet a different set of gestures. Each of the four movements begins with the very same opening four-note cell, but presented in a different way: abstractly as just the harmonic content, as a tune, and as an accompanimental figure. The title comes from the fact that in each of the movements all of the gestures are to be grossly exaggerated in a sort of reference to romanticism, from which this genre derives. The work was completed in November of 2001.

Comercial recordings of Over the Top are available. Click here for more information

Scores for Over the Top are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Permian Divide.

Version A was written for Bruce Weinberger and the Sierra High School Band. Premiered Tollhouse, CA, April, 2019, conducted by Bruce Weinberger.

Version B was written for Caroline Hand and the Ball State University Symphony Band. Premiere (April 25) cancelled due to COVID-19 and rescheduled for Fall, 2020.

NOTES: The Permian extinction took place about 250 million years ago and divides the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods. The history of life on our planet is punctuated with five notable dips in the number of species, known as extinction events and defined as a sudden and massive loss of life on a global scale (we are currently in a sixth extinction, likely caused by humans). These extinction events usually took place over tens of thousands of years, but from the perspective of 550 million years, the duration of life on our planet so far, 1000 years is the blink of an eye. The Permian extinction was the largest extinction event: over 90% of all species died out. Ferns, conifers, therapsids (which evolved into mammals), and archeosaurs (which evolved into dinosaurs), were some of the few species to survive. Although the reason for the great die out, referred to by some as the “mother of all extinctions,” is not known with 100% certainty, it is hypothesized that it was due to a massive dumping of carbon into the atmosphere along with massive climate change. This work was inspired by that event.

Scores for Permian Divide are available from the composer.


INSTRUMENTATION

Version A

1st Flutes (divisi in 2)
2nd Flutes (divisi in 2)
3rd Flutes (divisi in 2)
1st Clarinets in Bb (divisi in 2)
2nd Clarinets in Bb (divisi in 3)
3rd Clarinets in Bb (divisi in 3)
Bb Bass Clarinet
1st Alto Saxophones in Eb
2nd Alto Saxophones in Eb (divisi in 2)
Tenor Saxophone in Bb
Baritone Saxophone in Eb
Horns in F (divisi in 2)
1st Trumpets in Bb (divisi in 2) – w/ harmon mute
2nd Trumpets in Bb (divisi in 2) – w/ harmon mute
3rd Trumpets in Bb (divisi in 2) – w/ harmon mute
1st Tenor Trombones (divisi in 2) – w/ harmon mute
2nd Tenor Trombones (divisi in 2)
Euphonium
Tubas (divisi in 3)
Percussion 1: Glockenspiel, Suspended Cymbal, 2 Cow Bells, Temple Blocks, Flexatone, Tam tam (share with Percussion 4)
Percussion 2: Suspended Cymbal, Snare Drum, lowest Timpani with pedal, Guiro (share with Percussion 3), Temple Blocks (share with Percussion 1)
Percussion 3: Slap Stick, Guiro (share with Percussion 2), Bass Drum, Marimba
Percussion 4: Triangle, 1 Tom, Vibraphone, Tam tam (share with Percussion 1)
Piano

Version B adds:

1st Oboe (divisi in 2)
2nd Oboes (divisi in 2)
1st Bassoons
2nd Bassoons (divisi in 2 but will work without divisi) Horns 3 and 4 in F
Bass Trombone
another percussionist playing:
Percussion 1: Glockenspiel, Crotales, Break Drum, 2 Cow Bells, Slap Stick
Percussion 2: Suspended Cymbal, Tambourine w/ jingles, Snare Drum, lowest Timpani with pedal
Percussion 3: Marimba, Guiro, Tambourine w/ jingles, Bass Drum
Percussion 4: Vibraphone, Triangle, 1 Tom tom, Flexatone (share with Percussion 5)
Percussion 5: Tam tam, Temple Blocks, Suspended Cymbal, Flexatone (share with Percussion 4)

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× First page of the score Rituals and Revelations.

Commissioned by Rabbi Daniel Leifer, Hillel Foundation, University of Chicago. Premiered May 1998, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, by the Contemporary Chamber Players.

NOTES: Rituals and Revelations: During Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) of 1993, the late Rabbi Daniel Leifer of the University of Chicago Hillel Foundation announced that if any Jewish composer would be willing to create a musical setting of a particular portion of the New Year liturgy, he would make sure that it was performed. I decided to take him up on the challenge. The result of this project is a "cantata cycle" consisting of three separate cantatas and a coda -- tonight just the first cantata will be performed. The set of verses, Malchuyot, or kingship, is from the musaf (additional) amidah (standing prayer), and is one of the three “holiday specific” portions of the liturgy for the Jewish New Year celebration of Rosh Hashana.

These ten verses are taken from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms. My musical settings are based on the voices speaking the texts: God and Moses, the prophets Isaiah, Obadiah and Zechariah, people (Psalms) and several have the perspective of a modern day narrator recounting an historic event. Verses spoken by God or Moses employ only the syllables and vowels and are thus unintelligible. I reordered the words in the verses spoken by the Prophets to create new phrases which are intelligible, but which obscure the original meaning of the texts. Psalms, representing voices of people, are set in a straightforward manner, and those verses representing a modern day vantage point are spoken.

Hebrew is a language in which gender neutral pronouns and verb conjugations do not exist, so in order to create a more gender neutral work I use both masculine and feminine versions of all the verses. The harmonic material for the prophets was derived from the letters of their names, and the base chord for the 4-part and 8-part choral setions are derived from the gematria of the entire set of verses -- that is, I added up all of the letters (both masculine and feminine versions combined) of each verse and got one pitch. The two paslm verse choral sections use Yemenite drum patterns.

Scores for Rituals and Revelations are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Romantique.

Premiered at the Bowdoin Music Festival, Bowdoin, ME. 1999. Recording by the Pacifica Quartet, at the University of Chicago.

NOTES: Romantique: 6 Bagatelles for String Quartet, is modeled on the idea of a 19th-century character piece where the collection of "portraits" is based on sociological movements and important figures from 19th-century Europe. The movements include: I. Ontology, based on the idealization of the individual artist (and includes an extensive solo on the G string for the second violin); II. Exotic, based on the fascination of the eastern "other" (which usually meant as far east as Turkey, but in this case refers to South Asia); III. Variations without a Theme (a la Beethoven); IV. Wagner, which combines music from the transformation scene of Wagner's last opera Parsifal and the harmonic spectra of major and minor third tuned bells; V. America, a comment on nationalism (consisting entirely of quotation from various American musical genres and composers from John Philip Sousa marches to Rap to Charles Ives), and finally VI. Bagatelle, just a light piece based on a short tune.

Scores for Romantique: 6 Bagatelles for String Quartet are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score (St)Ring Tones.

Premiered at the 2014 Society of Composers National Conference.

NOTES: The first idea I had for (St)Ring Tones was a huge gliss – all four strings beginning on the same note and glissing outwards to a span of five octaves. After many false starts, I realized that the piece would also use a tune that emerges from a cluster made up of the initial pitches of the tune. The tune and initial cluster is diatonic (C, D, F, and G) unlike most of my music, so I created an alternate cluster that includes a chromatic pitch (C#, D, F, G). The chromatic cluster is comprised of three intervals out of which most of the harmony in the piece is built: a minor second, a major second, and a minor third. The main idea of the piece is still a gliss, but it now begins with a short gliss inwards towards the initial pitch of the tune, and eventually works its way outwards towards the five-octave span. The idea of a hairpin shape, derived from the gliss, manifests in other ways… each pitch of the tune is played in an increasing or decreasing number of repetitions, timbres change continuously between sul ponticello and ordinario, and repeated pitches speed up or slow down.

Comercial recordings of (St)Ring Tones are available. Click here for more information

Scores for (St)Ring Tones are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Stutter.

Commissioned and premiered by Elizabeth Crawford at Morehead State University March 7, 2020.

When Elizabeth Crawford asked me to write her a piece for E-flat clarinet, I was at first not sure how I was going to approach the piece - I tend to exploit extended techniques in my work, and E-flat clarinet does not have the same diversity of timbres that larger instruments have. In the end I decided to base the piece on a trumpet-like gesture with large leaps, since the clarinet is good at that. The piece alternates between machine-like and continuous leaps with irregular, "stuttering" repeated notes.

Scores for Stutter are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Superviola 3.0.

Commissioned by Katrin Meidell, viola, and Ketty Nez, piano. Premiered at Ball State University and Boston University, January, 2017.

NOTES: Superviola 3.0, for viola and prepared piano, was conceived of as a piece for viola, with the piano acting as a sort of extension of the instrument. As the work progresses, the piano’s figures and sounds eventually separate, almost as a sort of artificial intelligence which gains self awareness and takes off on its own; although it never gains an equal voice, and its existence is ultimately tied to the viola’s.

If it is not permitted to prepare the piano, then one can play the piece without the preparations. Any pitches which can be damped by hand should be. If the unprepared version is performed, then the title of the work should change to Superviola 3.1, and the following program notes should be used:

Superviola 3.1, for viola and piano, was conceived of as a piece for viola, with the piano acting as a sort of extension of the instrument. As the work progresses, the piano’s figures and sounds eventually separate, almost as a sort of artificial intelligence which gains self awareness and takes off on its own; although it never gains an equal voice, and its existence is ultimately tied to the viola’s. Superviola 3.0 is the original work, for viola and prepared piano. Superviola 3.1 is the same work, but performed without the piano preparations.

Comercial recordings of Superviola are available. Click here for more information

Superviola will be published in the Society of Composers Journal of Music Scores, vol. 58-59. Forthcoming 2019. Performing scores are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Three 4 Five.

Commissioned by the Pifferari Quintet. Premiered by them in the Summer of 1993, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

NOTES: After studying in Fontainebleau, France, in the summer of 1990, I became interested in exploiting aspects of sound other than pitch as primary carriers of musical information. Three 4 Five consists of three pieces, each privileging different parameters.

The jagged lines of the first piece are relieved by the extreme fluid lines of the second. The second piece consists of two ideas: (1) an oboe monologue which initiates cascades of (mostly) sevenths in the other instruments and (2) a harmonic progression of dyads which must be played out by every pair of instruments. Although the relationships between the various members of the ensemble are unclear at first, the oboe eventually takes over, resulting in a sort of oboe concerto.

In the third piece, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics," written as a homage to Iannis Xenakis, I used statistical techniques to determine small scale rhythmic motion as well as larger section lengths. Two sets, which are derived from each other by one note change, supply pitch material. The piece consists of three sections. The first, which cycles through all transpositions of the two sets, is divided into several subsections that become progressively shorter and more active. The second section composes out each of the initial five notes by means of register changes, quarter tones, multiphonics, and rhythmic patterns from the first section. The second section too consists of five subsections that become exponentially shorter and more active. The increased rhythmic activity at the end of the second section culminates in the third section, which has long runs in the flute which are then taken up by the rest of the group. The opening statement returns, led by the horn, who, tired of playing quarter-tones, began rebelling at the end of the second section by playing fanfares.

Scores for Three 4 Five are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Tower of Babel.

Premiered by the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, Spring, 1994.

NOTES: Tower of Babel is my attempt to write a coherent "post-modern" piece. Since the 70s, the idea of quotation or pastiche has come into vogue, especially the quotation of popular music or jazz. In my opinion, many of the works which employ these techniques are unsuccessful. At the same time, I have always loved the sensation of juxtaposing two very different types of music, or music in different tempos, and having to sort them out or make some sense of the combination or interaction. I decided to explore the idea of combining "gestures" and rhythm, rather than harmony, to define the different arenas. The "gestural arenas" are taken from jazz, rock and roll, 19th-century salon style (Chopin), 20th-century (Italian) modernism, and homophonic chorale-style. They are additionally constrained by register separation. The piece reaches a structural climax at the halfway point, with each half consisting of a sort of canon defined by gesture rather than theme. That is, I will juxtapose two gestures, then move the first gesture into the lower voice and add a new gesture in the top voice, and so on. However, this canonic organization is only roughly adhered to.

The title derives from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, which describes the creation of the different languages (musics, in this case) in the world, and the subsequent inability of the different peoples (musicians) to understand each other.

Scores for Tower of Babel are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Tuba Libre!

Premiered by Ronald Davis, University of South Carolina, October 4, 2018.

NOTES: Tuba Libre! exploits the utterly noisy nature of the tuba. It uses pitched motivic materials that move from pitched to unpitched noisy sounds, both in short passages and on the large scale. It works its way to a crazy fast passage requiring the tubist to leap up and down quickly between pitches that are over an octave apart, a very untuba-like gesture, which mostly results in noise due to the nature of the instrument. The leaping continues as it works its way back to a more pitched world.

Scores for Tuba Libre! are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Untitled No. 1.

Premiered April 21, 2010, Cleveland, OH.

NOTES: Untitled No. 1 was commissioned by the Cleveland Composers’ Guild for its 50th Anniversary Benefit Concert, and was written for Charles Bernard, Assistant Principle Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Despite its brevity, I tried to include as large a variety of gestures as possible - in a sort of a monologue – so that it would seem as if it covered the same amount of territory as an entire concert evening.

Scores for Untitled No. 1 are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score Up a Half Step.

Commissioned and performed by Aryn Sweeney. Premiered at the International Double Reed Society International Conference, August 16, 2015, Tokyo, Japan.

NOTES: Up a Half Step takes both Berio's Sequenza VII and the oboe’s lyrical qualities as its inspiration. The works begins much like Berio’s, with a drone on an iPhone, this time on C rather than B, but then as chromatic pitches unfold they develop into simple melodic and modal lines. The lines are then ornamented with timbral trills, grace notes, and multiphonics, resulting in a sort of Renaissance/20th-century mashup. My thanks to Aryn Sweeney who requested the piece, for her beautiful playing, and for her patience in experimenting with a huge variety of extended techniques.

Scores for Up a Half Step are available from TrevCo Music

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× First page of the score Xylolbones.

Commissioned by Luk'. Premiered at the Darmstadt Festival, June, 1994, Darmstadt, Germany.

NOTES: Xylobones was commissioned by Luk', a Belgian pianist who specifically requested that I write a piece based on a painting(s) or sculpture(s), preferably American. I've always liked the "bone" paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe, and felt that these suggested many interesting musical gestures. The first painting is of an antelope skull in the corner of a long horizontal canvas. The first piece begins with a short descending phrase (analogous to the antler) which eventually "blends in" to the background (canvas) chords in the upper register of the instrument. The second painting is of an antelope femur on a plain black and white background. I used the idea of the bone both as a percussion stick (for a xylophone, e.g.), and as a leg which is used for running. The stark simplicity of the painted forms gave me the idea to use clusters and chromatic lines as the harmonic basis of the piece. The third, and by far the longest, piece is based on a painting of an antelope skull with elaborate antlers suspended over the desert in an enormous depthless blue sky. The static musical gestures which are combined in different ways, are analogies to the skull (opening low cluster), disjointed melodic lines (antlers), and upper register chords (sky).

Scores for Xylobones are available from the composer.

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× First page of the score You Don't Need Eyes To See.

Commissioned by the Bent Frequency Duo Project. Premiered on April 21, 2015 at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

NOTES: The title of this work comes from an NPR story about blind people who can learn to echolocate. With training, they can learn to distinguish different environments to the level of recognizing the edges of sidewalks and where cars are (parked and moving), playgrounds, natural environments, including hiking trails, etc. The interviewer in the story ended the particular segment I was listening to by shouting out “You don’t need eyes to see.” My piece takes its inspiration from sounds of traffic (car horns) and the various emotions that result from being in a hurry (rage), not knowing what you will find on arrival at your destination (anticipation), not knowing if you will arrive on time (panic), and passing sirens (dread), etc.

Commercial recordings of You Don't Need Eyes To See are available. Click here for more information

Scores for You Don't Need Eyes To See are available from the composer.