Wane (2017)

Violin and 4 multitracked violins

Wane was written in fall 2015-Spring 2016 for Olivia DePrato.

Wane takes advantage of the multi-tracking possibilities of a recording session, where instead of a piece for a single solo violin, there is a lead soloistic part with four additional “shadow” violins, all of which are recorded by a single performer. While this piece finds an ideal form as a recording, it may also be performed live in two ways: playing the first violin line with prerecorded second through fifth violins, or with five violinists performing live.

Each of the five violin parts features a slightly different tuning and when the open strings of each violin are played in turn, one hears something like a downward slide. However, this slide or glissando effect is actually a smearing of discrete pitches that are extremely close together. This smearing effect provided the title of the piece, as the pitches seem to melt or wane.

While the tuning between the open strings of the violin parts is extremely close, they are all part of the same extended just intonation harmonic system that treats G as the tonic note. The importance of this systematic tuning is that all the pitches now have a double meaning: part of the downward smear effect as well as a harmonic identity. In practice, it need not be one or the other and the ambiguity between a smearing effect and a stable harmonic identity can be explored in interesting ways to suggest perceptual switches and surprising yet smooth chord changes.

Alluvium (2017)

solo oboe d'amore and electronics

Written for and dedicated to Catherine Lee.

Song (2015)

solo cello

Song for Solo Cello is dedicated to Anssi Karttunen. This score was written during the Summer of 2015 in Smithers, British Columbia, for a recital at the Scandinavia House in New York City, Fall 2015. It is part of a series of short solo cello compositions written for Mr. Karttunen by alumni of the Creative Dialogue program in Santa Fe and Helsinki.

Stagger (2012)

Stagger was written for Mira Benjamin as part of the Musique de chambre (noire) project developed through a collaboration between Nathalie Bujold (video artist), Quatuor Bozzini, and myself.

The video/tape portion in Stagger consists of remixed/rearranged recordings of Mira Benjamin improvising on the violin in a pre-designed scordatura (retuning of the violin). A similar solo with video/tape was written for each of the members of the Quatuor Bozzini, comprising a set of four short pieces. In the framework of the larger project of Musique de chambre (noire), these half-improvised pieces represent the deep collaboration between myself and the string quartet. Through this compositional method I attempt to blur the boundaries between improvised and written music as well as between composer and performer.

There is a video part that only appears in the last three minutes of the piece, which features the image of a raven on a wire, superimposed with its own reversed image. This footage was taken on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and this particular raven was well-known as “Barky”, since he would bark like a dog. In the recording session with Mira, she made scratch-tones on the violin to impersonate the sound of barky the Raven that were then used throughout the piece.

In working with an Mira’s improvisation I wanted to make a piece that was almost co-composed by the performer and to allow the performer to integrate their own musical sensibilities and improvisational ideas into the work. Additionally, this workflow shakes up my usual method of composing and the techniques that I often rely upon as I must first understand the musical organization provided to me and react to a huge part of the work over which I have no control.

Vocalise (2008)

solo violin and offstage drone

Written for Mira Benjamin, this piece explores formal ideas from Hindustani music. The lowest string of the violin is retuned to a slightly flat F-sharp, corresponding to the just major third of a D. This note is heard throughout the piece as a drone, grounding a microtonal mode and gradually expanding register of the solo instrument. The drone can be produced electronically or by using any number of offstage instruments.