The Modular Music Project
O Mensch, Gib Acht!, NorCal Water Music & The End Times Are a'Changin'
photo: Jonathan Reveles
The Modular Music Project combines live performance, formal modularity, and the audience’s mobile devices to create music along the deterministic–improvisational–aleatoric continuum. The movements, their components, and video animations are modular: the musicians can play the movements and their sections/parts thereof in different arrangements; the video projections can be broadcast at different times; and the audience can navigate and playback related media they retrieve from my website. With this piece others in the series, I seek to create ‘living’ multimedia works through communicative flexibility between myself, the performers and the audience to address socio-political challenges of our contemporary moment.
The first video is a 'trailer' of sorts that features 'Part 1' of a new piece for chamber choir and socio-multimedia, O Mensch, Gib Acht! This piece began as a critique of our mobile devices and the way we use them. As a nut shell of Nietzsche’s thesis philosophical novel, “Zarathustra’s Roundelay”, a short poem about 3/4 through the novel, aims to express this. Imagine your your cell phone as a manifestation of the Will – someone willed it into existence. While seemingly endlessly useful, I question to what end: we tweet, post, doom scroll to our obsession, distraction, and isolation. Since the pandemic’s onset, the message of the work has unexpectedly become more prescient and foreboding in our angst-ridden, tormented, and anguished moment. When premiered in person, the singers will realize the work with their cell phones using this webpage. This trailer was presented in one of three virtual galleries during Soundbox4: A Zoom of One's Own, and virtual media festival, directed by Dr. Dana Reason at OSU through a partnership between Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts, School of Arts and Communications; and Truckenbrod Gallery & Site of Sound Series.
The second video is the world premiere of NorCal Water Music. On November 10, 2019, Citywater gave the premiere of NorCal... at the Crocker Art Museum on the last day of the 42nd Annual Festival of New American Music. NorCal dives into issues concerning one of California’s most important resources - water - and celebrates the beauty, complexity, and fragility of the Sacramento River Watershed. The ensemble realizes music derived from computer-animated maps of the watershed, overlaid by musical notation. The ensemble determines an order of the movements and their respective components. As video-jockey, I cue that order with the animations projected on a screen in the concert hall. Each video features a different geographical area of the watershed. (I also created all the visual aspects of the of the project).
Between movements, there are short video interludes featuring the ecological sound found at a particular waterway. At these moments, the audience is invited to view on their mobile devices a short video with its own soundtrack accessible from my website, thus creating streams of motivic echoes across the hall. At this performance and future ones, Citywater, myself and the audience sustain a multidimensional, and sometimes fragile aqua-sonorous musical space. (For a movement-by- movement set of time-points, please visit this video of the piece on my youtube page.)
Later in the playlist, Colin McAlllister and myself perform The End Times Are a'Changin': fantasia on a theme by Dylan (2018) for solo guitar and socio-multimedia at SoundOn 2019, in January of this year (program notes). The End Times... offers the guitarist, the video-jockey, and the audience a unique opportunity to realize together an audio-visual work that can start and end in a myriad of ways. At a performance, the guitarist determines an order of the movements, to which the video-jockey is not privy. Upon hearing each movement, the video-jockey chooses videos from a library of media that I created for the piece to project and make available online for the audience to play back simultaneously on their mobile devices (with their volumes up!). It is intended that the video jockey attenuate the volume of the projections to allow for a balance them the audience’s mobiles devices. If there is a large number of participants in the audience (they have the choice to not use their phones), the audio of the projections may be minimized significantly. While the formal arcs are similar, the pathways through the movements, the improvisation between them (please see the score for notes on this aspect of the work), and the degree to which the audience participates can make for very different realizations and conclusions of the experience. The remaining videos in the playlist are some of the media that I project and make make available on my website for the audience to play back on their mobile devices.
O Mensch, Gib Acht! (not finished)
for chamber choir and
click here for the
contact me to learn more
The End Times are a'Changin' (2018)
(see 'Solo' in Catalog for score)
for accompaniment and
please contact me.
Liminal Spaces (2018)
for alto saxophone and guitar (14')
(see 'Solo' in Catalog for score)
NorCal Water Music (2019)
for chamber ensemble
score coming soon!
O Mensch! Gib acht!
Commissioned by Sacra/Profana
for chamber choir and
premiere expected in October 2020
a new work for Loadbang (NY),
a chamber ensemble for
trumpet, bass clarinet
trombone, and baritone voice
premiere expected in 2021
song cycle for high voice