Selected recordings of my concert music, 2007-present
(Album artwork is actually from a Janacek manuscript, but it seemed like an appropriate enough depiction of my process.)
released 01 January 2011
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- Track Name: Ghost Almanac
Ghost Almanac, for mixed chamber ensemble, is a kind of musical metaphor for how memory works, a sonic map of the mental landscape. It reflects both the way thoughts we want to forget can be maddeningly persistent, and the way thoughts we want to remember can be eerily insubstantial. These processes are texturally embodied by resonance, reverberation and decay, and motivically rendered by echo, repetition and fragmentation of material. The piece explores chaotic, dense textures (when the mind is overwhelmed) as well as more meditative textures permeated by silence (when the mind is lucid).
Performed by the HEAR NOW Festival Ensemble, May 2011
- Track Name: Mobile I
Mobile I is a work for solo violin and live electronics. It is an audio analogue of a sculptural mobile, in that it has many "moving parts," but any given configuration of the parts is still recognizable as the same structure.
The electronic output is derived from an ongoing spectral analysis of the violinist's performance. The violinist acts as a demiurge, igniting the initial spark of electronic sound. However, as the piece progresses, the results of the analysis are partially fed back into the system to be analyzed again, eventually resulting in a self-sustaining cascade of sounds that is unpredictable on the micro (note) level, yet consistent on the macro (texture) level.
Similarly, the violinist's part has a degree of indeterminacy and agency. Parameters left to the discretion of the performer include number of some repetitions, duration of some rests, method of producing unpitched sounds, and movement in space.
Performed by Andrew Tholl, violin
- Track Name: Man on Wiire
Man on Wiire, for piano and electronics, is an acrobatic act demanding tremendous agility and precision from the pianist, involving massive leaps, tricky hand-crossings, and sudden shifts in character. Meanwhile, the performer's movement is monitored by an accelerometer (here, a Nintendo Wii controller) and used to electronically modulate the piano's sound. A performer at rest will pass through a “clean” piano sound, while greater movement will create greater and greater disturbances—much like the disturbances of a taut wire as the tightrope walker makes his way from end to end.
Man on Wiire was commissioned by pianist Aron Kallay, who premiered the work as part of his faculty recital “Alt + Piano: Alternative Keyboard Literature,” on Saturday, September 30th, 2010 at the University of Southern California’s Alfred Newman Hall.
- Track Name: Mobile II ("Dear Mr. Edison")
Mobile II (“Dear Mr. Edison”), for viola and electronics, uses two source recordings from the very early days of recording technology. The first is a speech given by composer Arthur Sullivan in October 1888, thanking Thomas Edison for his invention of the phonograph. Sullivan says:
Dear Mr. Edison,
If my friend Edmund Yates has been a little incoherent, it is in consequence of the excellent dinner, and good wine which he has drunk. Therefore, I beg you would excuse him. He has his lucid intervals.
For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiment -- astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. But all the same, I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.
The second sample is a recording of Handelʼs oratorio Israel in Egypt from June 1888. Recorded from over 100 yards away and subject to over 100 years of decay, the chorus of 4000 voices is almost obscured by noise artifacts from the degradation of the wax cylinder. Often the technological medium itself seems to have its own musical agenda; this piece explores the wonder and terror conjured by that agenda. -IS
Performed by Alma Lisa Fernandez, viola
- Track Name: Piano Trio I
Performed by Aki Tsai, violin; Nia Allen, cello; Gary Shields, piano