Experimental Projects A primarily explores relationships between sound, determinacy, and euphony.
In gap of dunloe, an improvisation on seven out of tune notes on an old piano is paired with uncut samples of field recordings. As horses trot, people walk, wind blows, and people yell into in the mountains, the piano's notes beat with a simple melody.
In Open, soft tam-tam and bass drums mallets are repeatedly struck against the lower register of a baby grand piano. By slightly expanding the range of the attacks, a full droning texture is created with eventual sympathetic upper harmonics rising above the low rumble.
In Rain Music, cut up recordings from a summer storm in Washington, D.C. are layered to great effect. With the field recorder under a resonant steel bowl, polyrhythms and indeterminate attacks are at the forefront of the piece with thunder, fire engines, and a vocal dog providing some incidental expansions of register and texture.
In Beating, using physical properties of sounds, low register, close interval organ pipes are used to create multiple concurrent pulses through beats. Recorded at the Lovely Lane Methodist Church during a recital by Benjamin Teague, the space itself contributes to the effectiveness of the piece, with the dome of the ceiling creating a perfect whispering gallery.
are these our streets? explores community and gentrification in Washington, D.C. through a field recording of walking through a historically Salvadoran community. The sounds of new buses on recently created routes, majority english speaking, and the pulse of uninterrupted walking are paired with electronically manipulated extended piano technique to communicate the feelings of intense dysphoria and dissonance with the displacement of long-time community members.
Flashbacks to a beautiful moment uses a summer rainstorm in Melbourne, Australia as a backdrop to explorations of timbre from a variety of percussion instruments and cor anglais, and the expansion of a harmonic progression played by a disklavier. Inspired by memories of a loved one, the piece uses space and time to paint a building feeling, eventually released into calm.
I had been conceiving of Paper Music for more than a year before I put finger to keyboard. The question of integrating the ethics of liberation and equity into composition had been a constant one, especially considering classical music’s history of racism, classism, and homophobia. Even with the post-modern ideals of a valuation system based on polystylistic merit, the new music composers and musicians with the most access to resources and institutional support through social (and cultural) capital continue to be overwhelmingly white and cis-gendered. Acknowledging that the ideas of social and musical progress in the 60’s & 70’s were overwhelmingly abstract and inaccessible because of the background understanding and experience needed to engage, I was still impressed with the principle of breaking down the barrier between performer and audience.
The way to bring in new listeners is to offer a unique experience. More popular forms of music have mastered the concert experience, from joy-filled dancing in the crowd to EDM, to moshing to Hardcore, to softly swaying and hanging on each word of great folk punk. Applauding the solos in jazz standards is immeasurably more fun than sitting in silence between movements. Considering each genre facilitates some kind of unique level of engagement, why does new music continue to hold on to the paradigm of a sit-down, contemplative concert? I think folks often classify classical music by a defined power structure, and resulting safety, between composer, performer, and audience when they would ideally be working together towards an fun and intellectually engaging experience. By giving agency to performers and audience members, everyone in a chosen space can contribute and the concert barrier can be shifted towards an empowering and transformative experience. Paper Music facilitates such.
Paper Music tackles the concept of creating accessible and interactive music for all levels of musician, while keeping the notated and instructional quality of the classical canon. The piece uses the sounds created from utensil on medium, be it pencil on paper, chalk on board, crayon on cardboard, etc. and different shapes to create a texture of various rhythms, timbres, and pulses. Especially accessible to children and untrained adults, Paper Music illustrates basic concepts of rhythm, organized sound, and participation in music making. By centering the importance of communal growth and interaction in the compositional process of new and experimental musics, all the people in a chosen space benefit. Such pieces and exercises promote growth and expansion of auditory understanding and active listening, a natural stepping stone for the more abstract expressions of new music and an equalizing of education and appreciation.
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