chamber music

Attacca (2016) woodwind quintet performed by Quintet Attacca
This piece consists of five movements, performed attacca, or without pause between them. In fact they fit together in seamless ways, though each has its own distinct structure. The brief movements’ titles are: caprice, confianza, perpetual motion, chorale, and blues. The bass clarinet and English horn gives a slightly darker twist to the traditional ensemble; piccolo appears in the final movement.
The Conjecture (2006) piano trio premiered by the Lincoln Trio
The Conjecture for violin, cello and piano is dedicated to the Lincoln Trio who premiered it in 2006. The piece explores numerous contrapuntal relationships between and among two subjects in a context of dynamic, gestural and rhythmic contrasts. The tossing about of these subjects and the weighing of them in various musical contexts can be likened to a formal discourse investigating a logical proposition. First the bold conjecture is asserted, but it is immediately followed by careful consideration and reflection in a similarly derived but calm second theme treated in various canonic combinations. This contrast of mood is eventually reconciled as the initial theme is once again taken up in fugal treatment.
Strange Attractor (2005) mandolin & guitar performed by Duo Ahlert & Schwab
This piece was inspired by an aptly named physical phenomenon occurring in the realm of chaos theory where the closer one looks the stranger things become.
Aether (2010) oboe & string trio performed by dal niente
Aether was was one of the rst-born or elemental ancient Greek gods. His domain was the upper sky, the air breathed by the gods. But he descended to earth to settle a dispute. This piece begins with natural harmonics in the strings, and the oboe in its high register.
Attacca (2016) woodwind quintet performed by Quintet Attacca
This piece consists of five movements, performed attacca, or without pause between them. In fact they fit together in seamless ways, though each has its own distinct structure. The brief movements’ titles are: caprice, confianza, perpetual motion, chorale, and blues. The bass clarinet and English horn gives a slightly darker twist to the traditional ensemble; piccolo appears in the final movement.
Attacca (2016) woodwind quintet performed by Quintet Attacca
This piece consists of five movements, performed attacca, or without pause between them. In fact they fit together in seamless ways, though each has its own distinct structure. The brief movements’ titles are: caprice, confianza, perpetual motion, chorale, and blues. The bass clarinet and English horn gives a slightly darker twist to the traditional ensemble; piccolo appears in the final movement.
Five Pieces for String Quartet (1999) string quartet performed by Lumière Quartet
These five pieces explore clusters, gestures, instrument pairings and counterpoint. the final piece is a fugue whose subject explores in a very short length of time a wide range of sound production.
Accretion (2011) percussion quartet performed by SIU Percussion Ensemble, Ron Coulter, dir.
This piece is generated by means of two simultaneous processes. The first is a constantly expanding repeating pattern that begins with a single beat; each time it repeats a beat is added. The second is the principle of variation. The piece can thus be understood as a constantly growing passacaglia, with the added feature that a new added note occasionally redefines the harmonic structure of the previously occurring material.
Duet for Low Strings (2006) cello & contrabass premiered by Elizabeth Start & David Murray
While writing Duet for Low Strings during the summer of 2006, I had in the back of my mind the historical relationship between the contrabass and cello have had in orchestral literature. In this piece, I attempted not to vindicate the contrabass from its doubling role, but to formulate a truce between the two instruments.
Vaudeville Kaliedoscope (1998) large ensemble performed by UChicago New Music Ensemble
Subtitled, ‘Canon in hyperaugmentation’ the Vaudeville Kaleidoscope is a very large and entirely strict canon. That is to say, that it is composed only of transpositions, inversions, augmentations, and so on of a single melodic phrase. That appropriated phrase is a familiar one to American ears. It has a history of being borrowed and used as a generic introduction to vaudeville, ragtime or swing pieces in the early Twentieth Century. Because it is familiar as a structural gesture, it points ahead rather than back toward itself, and thus has connotaions of being without content. Nonetheless it provides the content for this piece, which presents itself as a series of stylistically distinct vignettes.

Only once in the eleven-minute piece does the canon subject appear in a recognizable form. At the end of the piece’s introduction, it appears clearly in its traditional role. Elsewhere in the piece it is combined with itself in such dense or augmented juxtaposition, and with varied orchestration, that it does not surface.

Portrait of a Moment (1995) woodwind quintet performed by Contempo (1995) and 8th Blackbird (1998)
This short piece for clarinet, violin, cello and piano represents a series of utterances unified in a way which tends to resemble the experience of reviewing a particular, emotionally-charged moment or event in time, in two or three frames of mind.

The piece toys with formal ambiguity: The first part of the piece is concerned with stasis and motion. After a somewhat climactic event, insistent gestures are replaced by periods of relative harmonic stasis alternating with short contrapuntal and harmonically richer passages. There is no point at which one can definitively say that this section of the piece ends and the next begins, but the slowly accelerating bass motion accomplishes a transition to an ostinato which is eventually treated in a sort of micro-variations format until textures from the first part of the piece briefly return.

On With What? (2013) trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, elec guit, bass guit, vibraphone performed by Nozzle
Written for a performance in tribute to Frank Zappa performed by the Oberlin band Nozzle and friends, this piece is written in the style of Frank Zappa. It pursues a particularly obstinate ostinato.
Xcymbalum (2013) percussion, flutes, live processing and score generation performed by Due East
Xcymbalum is written for flutes, percussion and automated live processing including dynamically generated musical score displayed on separate screens to the two performers. The title means “from the cymbal” reflecting the fact that the pitch material of the piece is drawn from the cymbals. Sounds from the bowed cymbals are analyzed by the computer during the performance, and their pitch content is transformed into both sounds and musical notation displayed on computer screens for the performers to read. At particular times during the performance each performer “plays” the other’s instrument virtually as the computer tracks their notes and produces notes of the same perceived pitch but with the tone color of the opposite player. Listen for pitch correspondences between the instruments.