for Princeton PhD Application
If pressed for time, feel free to use the following starting cue times to hear representative snapshots of the pieces.
Convergences: 0:40 - Rehearsal B
Transfiguration: 5:20 - Measure 73
spaces of an absent voice: 0:25
Convergences was conceived as a continuous set of short variations on cyclic motion and alignment constructed from fragmented cycles of timbre and gesture. Over the duration of the opening section, recurrence becomes apparent with increasing density of alignments. After the establishment of these ideas, a spacious, amorphous sound world is formed. Performers are given cycles of musical gestures, within which they are free to shape durations and dynamics in a manner congruent with the ensemble as a whole. The goal is for the performers, through carefully listening and reacting, to shape the material and create moments of significance through alignment (in whichever musical manner alignment may be interpreted). The conclusion of the piece is thought of as a saturation point where these materials are once again recollected and cycled through in a more organized manner until the dense texture gives way to delicate, wavering tones oscillating in and out of tune.
This piece was written for the Mizzou New Music Ensemble in observance of the 2017 North American solar eclipse.
Transfiguration was conceived as a musical allegory of the metaphysical process of the dissolution of physical form. One might initially think of the Transfiguration of Christ as a religious representation of this idea, or in classical mythology one could consider the birth of Pegasus from the blood of Medusa as another instance. Medusa, here a representation of stone and solidity, gives way to Pegasus, a creature of flight and agility.
When composing this work, I was concerned with the process behind such metamorphoses. In a sense, the final goal is the aural dissipation of the orchestra. The opening of the piece is established with intensely corporeal figures, ecological sound patterns, and scattered monoliths of sound. However, brief moments of animation and granulation serve to slowly dissolve these blocks. Through this process, space is created which allows the scattered musical materials to retake a stable form that is very unlike the original. Less traditional playing techniques are used as structural tools to create this distinction between the initial sound forms and the latter ones, so that the resultant sound is something entirely new as the materials take shape once more after their dissolution. But to fully realize the allegory, it must be considered that the idea of transfiguration typically implies a sense of transcendence. Weight and form are traded for lightness and agility. The corporeal becomes incorporeal. To accomplish such transcendence, techniques are used specifically to create sounds that are disassociated from the sounding body they originate from. Therefore, the piece begins in a place that is recognizably “orchestral” and what I would consider musically corporeal, but ends in an unfamiliar sound world that is populated by seemingly weightless and nimble sound objects.
spaces of an absent voice
spaces of an absent voice was developed as an examination of real-time concatenative synthesis techniques in conjunction with predetermined fixed media elements. Over the duration of the work, the performer is presented instructions on the precise manipulation of a turntable through a Max patch. The vinyl record to be used on the turntable is left to the discretion of the performer.
My goal in composing this work was to stratify layers of obfuscation over an intelligible or communicable “message.” Nevertheless, the “message” in this work only exists in an undefined or hypothetical state due to blurring and distortion created by the obfuscation layers. Syntactic patterns of speech can be heard, but it is overwhelmingly difficult to piece them together and to arrive at a place where they are understood. The trajectory of this work is therefore constructed via motion through these layers, whether lifting one veil of obscurity or lowering another. The idea is that, at the nucleus of this piece, there is a message being communicated by a disembodied, ethereal voice. The layers of obscurity blurring this message span multiple levels of perception and include the utilization of foreign language, delay accretion, the message only as audible writing (rather than speech), and a variety of concatenation combinations between the voice and other musical materials. As a small hint, I will state that even if the listener is familiar with the foreign languages of the speaking voices, they would still be one step removed from the hypothetical “message.”
In a dreamlike manner, the performer is following the disembodied voice through a variety of environments and using the interactive tool of the turntable in order to reach the coveted nucleus of clear communication and understanding. This will prove to be an exercise in futility.