was commissioned by the 2012-2013 Xavier Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Matthew Westgate. From the program notes:
The idea for this piece originates from an incident that occurred in January of 2012 during a New York Philharmonic concert in which a mobile phone accidentally started ringing during a performance of Mahler’s 9th Symphony. A New York Times blog post following the concert described the incident and the subsequent reaction of the conductor and the audience, an alarmingly aggressive and judgmental stance that crucified the offender for his rudeness and disruptiveness.
While having a mobile go off at an inopportune time during a piece of music is an unfortunate circumstance and can potentially destroy a powerful musical moment, it’s my belief that to hold an attitude that this interruption coming from an unintentional and non-malicious intent warrants such a severe outrage will only perpetuate further separation between a style of music and its audience in a way counter to everything that I try to promote as a musician, composer, and artist.
beauty…beholder is written in this spirit. It is my attempt to take various elements normally seen as clashing and instead embrace and include them into an atypical definition of a beautiful musical whole, promoting the philosophy that sometimes in order for the audience to accept and be open to an art genre and its subsequent works, that art genre and its works also need to accept and be open to its audience.
was commissioned by the Portland Percussion Group.
I wrote The Spaces Between as an exploration of textural combinations in a serene space. The primary intent of the piece is to encourage the audience to treat the various individual percussive instruments not as their own distinct lines but instead as a versatile solo instrument that is performing a (mostly) singular idea.
The piece is heavily influenced by the concept that in the hustle of our every day lives that rapidly moves from one moment to the next, we forget to take a step back and enjoy the spaces between those moments, that the journey itself is as important if not more important than the journey's beginning and end.
was commissioned by the Liminal Space contemporary ensemble in 2013.
One of the more influential pieces of music written by one of my undergraduate professors was Rob Maggio’s Bacarole (seven mad gods who rules the sea). The compositional structure takes the musical material of Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words, deconstructs it, and then uses the deconstructed material as the slowly developing palette for the piece until it leads to a powerful emotional climax that resolves itself with the original Song Without Words played as the epilogue.
This concept, one that I sometimes refer to as a “reverse development”, is something I’ve used in several of my pieces, and it felt like an appropriate technique to use as a basis for this piece – a tribute to one of my favorite piano solo composers who heavily influenced my youth, and a tribute to one of my favorite of his compositions to both play and to hear. La cathédrale engloutie, or The Sunken Cathedral, resonates so strongly with my emotional core with its beauty and its simultaneous simplicity and complexity, and this commission gave me the opportunity to express my love for the piece in my own unique way – an interpretation that I hope stands enough on its own as well as doing justice to the original.
was commissioned by the Portland Percussion Group in 2012.
During my graduate composition studies at the University of Oregon, I became great friends with a lot of the percussion department and its members, performing as a guest member in some of the concerts and recitals. It was after one of these concerts that the percussion department head at the time, Charles Dowd, gave me an open invite to write a piece for his ensemble. I started sketching a piece soon after, but it went unfinished as I had to focus on my studies and my thesis.
Even though I had only written the opening gesture in that sketch, something about what I was trying to achieve with it continued to resonate with me even as my musical voice continued to evolve, and ten years later when the Portland Percussion Group asked me to write them a piece in which three members were my colleagues during my time at the University of Oregon, it felt like the right opportunity to take that initial unfinished sketch and offer them a complete rendition as a tribute to our time and history together.
Moon of Eris is a representation of the subtle and gradual rise and fall of chaos coupled with the instability and imperfection of memory.
was commissioned by David Constantine, the Assistant Principal Percussionist of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, who requested that I write him solo timpani literature that placed more emphasis on melodic and lyrical content rather than percussive and rhythmic virtuosity.
The piece is dedicated to Charles Dowd in honor of his legacy, for all he did for percussion in the Pacific Northwest and for granting me numerous performing and compositional opportunities with the University of Oregon percussion department.
Timpani Forces was world premiered by David Constantine in April 2011 in New Orleans, LA. It was also accepted into the 9th Annual Festival of Contemporary Music in the summer of 2011, and was performed by Chris Whyte, the Director of Percussion Studies at Western Oregon University..
was written for the Hundredth Monkey Ensemble in Eugene, Oregon. I started writing the piece in early 2004 after my girlfriend of several years and I were giving our relationship a second try after a very messy and emotional breakup a couple of months prior. At the time, I remember having a clear picture in my head of standing at a fork in the road looking at two paths – our current relationship trajectory path that, while rocky, would have eventually led to marriage and family and the happiness that comes with that, and an alternate path in which our future together even as friends was completely unknown.
The emotional whirlwind I was going through during all of this did not deter my approach of this other path with optimism – the idea that if our relationship didn’t lead to a lifelong partnership in matrimony, the alternative would still lead to something wonderful at some point in our lives. The Other Path is my musical expression of this outlook, a melancholy yet optimistic perspective on potential heartbreak. It’s meant to capture the stillness of standing at the fork in the road, and the acknowledgement that the alternate path, despite representing loss and sadness for a life path that would have been beautiful but can never be can still be something that can become beautiful in its own way.
Almost a decade later, the piece now also represents a peaceful reflection on said path and the humble gratitude of what the two of us now hold – one of the strongest and most heartfelt lifelong friendships that I will ever have.
was commissioned as a part of a University of Oregon workshop with Quattro Mani and was the first piece of music I wrote as a graduate student. It was menat to be symbolic of my “Shift” from the east coast to the west coast, as well as the “shift” from whole-tone to chromatic scales and pitch sets. At the time I had just discovered Ligeti's piano etudes which were a clear influence.
is a four movement work that was commissioned by Hannah Banghart whilst she was an undergrad at West Chester University. It has since been performed several times in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Louisiana.
was commissioned by Dylan Koester in 2017. It is a three-movement work that explores different concepts of time perception.
The first movement, Distant Haze, represents the imperfect recollection of individual past memories. It takes its primary thematic material, at first purely acoustic and unmanipulated, and then recalls it as randomly-controlled background noise with (mostly) slight variations in tempo.
The second movement, Total Recall, represents the interaction of the present with various iterations of the immediate past as pure and deliberately measured canons.
The third movement, Spacetimes, represents the interaction of one state of present spacetime with other spacetimes (theorized as a possible fifth-dimension in string theory; more commonly analogous to what is now popularly known as the multiverse theory) in simultaneity. It replicates the primary thematic material in real spacetime but with variations in pitch and energy as alternate spacetimes that can consequently lead to unknown long-term changes in those alternative spacetimes. It also echoes themes from the first two movements.
When Dylan commissioned me to write a piece for his senior recital, I was originally going to write it as either a solo trumpet work or a trumpet duet. When the idea of including interactive electronics started to take shape, it was both appealing and daunting – it had been over a decade since I had done any serious Max programming aside from a few scant exercises, and most of my experience had only been working with the MIDI side of Max.
In the end, I opted to tackle it because I feel like I have a lot to say in the electronic media space, particularly interactive music and art. I immediately resonated with Max during my undergraduate years and my passion for electronic music led me to have it be an integral component to my masters thesis. Re-immersing myself in Max, reminding myself of its diverse capabilities, and constantly discovering and creating new ways to implement my creative vision has been like rekindling the relationship of a long lost close friend – familiar yet new, awkward but comfortable, inspiring and joyful.
The concept for Shifting Signals came about when I was in a Google Hangout with two other people who were participating in the Hangout on separate computers in the same room. Google Hangouts determines which computer should occupy the main video screen by whoever has the loudest audio signal. When one person in the Hangout tried to speak, the microphones from both computers in the same room picked up the audio simultaneously and Google Hangouts ended up swapping back and forth between the two video cameras in rapid succession, unsure of which audio signal was the loudest. I wanted to replicate this phenomenon as the basis for a series of musical pieces.
I consider Shifting Signals Zero to be the beginnings of exploration and experimentation of how best to interweave this phenomenon into live performance. I tried to create a musical journey about aural and visual space – the main musical motive is split into three chords, each of which are assigned a particular aural space, and the performer initially plays and moves in parallel to that designated aural space. As the separate spaces come together and more elements get added to the musical picture, the physical and visual space also becomes combined and culminates into a central focus that by the nature of the Google Hangout represents a simultaneous sense of unity and separation.
Shifting Signals Zero was world premiered by the nienteForte ensemble in April of 2012 in New Orleans, LA.
was commissioned by The Concert Singers under the direction of Jenni Brandon. When trying to find an inspiring text to set music to, i found that most of the stuff that i liked that was free of copyright issues were very bland or overdone, so i requested my good friend Amanda Regan Lighthiser compose a text for me for this piece. When asked for topic ideas, i suggested that she write about her (then) current state of pregnancy with her first child. The text that she gave me was so well crafted that the music practically wrote itself.
The poem Honeysuckle Juice was accepted into the April 2012 publication of The Mom Egg.
Honeysuckle Juice was world premiered by The Concert Singers in March of 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.
is a solo electronic work that was written in honor of one of my good friends who informed me that her parents had collectively committed suicide. It was originally written to serve as a backdrop for live performance.
is a solo audio work for the Future Music Oregon concert series at the University of Oregon.
One late evening, a house party next to where I was living at the time got out of control and turned into a massive shouting fest, bottle throwing, and fight between various attendees of the party and also some passersby. As soon as the chaos began, I grabbed my digital audio recorder and started recording the entire incident. I then took segments of the source audio and heavily manipulated it with the programs Kyma and ProTools to create a work meant to capture and amplify the uninhibited negative energy of the confrontations.
Almost all of the audio in the piece is digital manipulation of various human voices. The one exception is one small segment of audio which is digital manipulation of a person clapping.
is the revised and updated promotional video for the Tulane University Marching Band that plays prior to our pregame performance in Yulman Stadium. Audio was created by Andrew Szypula, video was created by me.
is a flash video game created by my brother Felix for which I was responsible for all of the music and some of the sound effects. It's playable on both Kongregate and itch.io. The itch.io site has a place where you can download the soundtrack for a donation of $1 or more.
is an animated short that I created because at that time, no YouTube video existed that featured Steve Reich's Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards”. The video is eight different runs of me playing First Person Tetris in Dark Mode displayed simultaneously in a circular pattern with some basic minimalistic video-compositional ideas that I thought mimicked the minimalist nature of Reich's piece.
is a video composition of a personal run of the game Chain Factor with heavy visual manipulation. Originally the video was just supposed to be a gameplay run to show my personal gameplay style and strategy, but for various reasons it evolved into a full fledged creative project that involved heavy manipulation influenced and driven by the music used for the video. Read about my creative process.
before i started this new Reaper project, i was projecting that the piece was going end up being 9-12min.
Just finished a rough intro framework. based on what I did, now i'm projecting more like 20-30 minutes, if not longer.
maybe i need to listen to less Michael Gordon.