Alluvial Commons (2015) – pedal steel guitar, two violins, bass, and 96 resonant bandpass filters

Meet me by the pleroma (2009) – for violin, long string duochord, slentem, and electronics

Meet me by the pleroma reveals the usually inaudible difference tones that result from two pitches sounding together. These “sonic entities” affect our perceptions of dissonance, consonance, and tonality, and they are treated here as harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic material. Meet me by the pleroma was composed and performed in partial fulfillment of a Master in Fine Arts in Electronic Music at Mills College.

Seven orbits (for solo zarb) (2009) – Composed for zarb player Luigi Marino, the piece consists of seven discrete systems to be played in any sequence and for any duration. The graphic score indicates relative pitch and density as well as technique.

Stoa Poikile (2008) – for small ensemble of non fixed-pitch instruments and 96 resonant band-pass filters

96 resonant band pass filters are created with center frequencies that can be tuned to a scale determined by rational number intervals and based on a fundamental frequency. The tunings can be changed on the fly, selected from an array of tunings at random, with a smooth interpolation from one tuning to the next. Tunings based on the harmonic series should be used. Some or all of the tunings should have different intervals in each octave, so that the fundamental and partials of each instrument trigger multiple simultaneous melodies.

Below is an example of three octaves of a tuning, all harmonically related but each with slightly different microtones and minor thirds:

1/1 28/27 10/9 8/7 7/6 9/7 7/5 3/2 8/5 12/7 7/4 27/14
2/1 49/24 20/9 16/7 12/5 18/7 14/5 3/1 16/5 10/3 7/2 192/49
4/1 34/8 40/9 32/7 38/8 36/7 28/5 6/1 32/5 128/19 7/2 28/17

The instrumentalists gradually learn their way around the interior of the structure – initially by playing slow glissandos and seeking out the resonant nodes of the tuning. When excited, the frequencies from the scale will be audible as tone swells, similar to an Aeolian Harp or sympathetic strings. The filter player triggers tuning changes and should manage resonance and gain levels to maintain clarity and prevent feedback.

When each instrumentalist excites a resonating frequency he or she likes, that tone should be held. When all instrumentalists are playing sustained tones and a resonant chord is sounding, the filter player can change the tuning (the intervals, not the fundamental frequency.) The process repeats, until the filter player mutes the filters on the last sustained chord, leaving only the acoustic sounds of the instruments.

Fluvial Cortex (2007) – for trombone and electronics

Fluvial Cortex features solo trombone playing with and against a bank of sine wave oscillators tuned to a 7-limit just intonation minor scale. I wanted to utilize the acoustic character of Mills College’s Lisser Hall, trombonist Andy Strain’s skill with multiphonics, and the microtonal possibilities of his instrument. The score instructs him to move through the space, playing intervals derived from a tintinnabulist, just D minor triad (featuring a septimal minor third 7/6), then playing glissandi between closely tuned intervals in the scale.

Stalwart cercle, wavering canton (2006)

Stalwart cercle, wavering canton is comprised of sine waves tuned to intervals derived from the harmonic series. Pairings of closely-tuned, hard-panned pitches are modulated by very gradual glissandi that glide between the stable pitches. This creates the effect of tones circulating around the listening space at varying speeds against a slowly evolving backdrop of pure consonances and sonorous dissonances. In higher registers the intervals will interact uniquely for each listener depending on location in the space, head position and movement.

Comprehensivism (2000) – for clarinet, trumpet, French horn, percussion, piano, classical and electric guitars, zither, 2 violins, cello, accordion, and sampler.

Comprehensivism was commissioned by Duke University’s pulsoptional ensemble (then known as CSMG) for their “Synaesthesia: Echoes of Black Mountain College”Fall Concert in 2000. The piece was inspired by the life and work of Buckminster Fuller. The piece has three movements – “Materials,” “Systems,” and “Structures.” In the first movment the harmonic material of the piece is introduced, with three voices sounding at any given time. This is an allusion to Fuller’s notion that the simplest stable system in Nature is the triangle. The third movement uses a graphic score and refers to materials and motifs presented in the previous two movements.

For twelve guitars (1999)

This piece was premiered at the 1999 Transmissions festival for experimental music at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. The ensemble consists of twelve electric, table-top guitars. Each player plays a single pitch using a light mallet roll techinique similar to that used on hammered dulcimers. The piece gradually crescendoes over a 21-minute duration into a shimmering Cmin7 chord.