Representative Works (5)
California Tableaux "Tableau I:
Songs, Stories, Prayers, and a Plate of Brass" (2017)
Through music, spoken work, video, and dance, California Tableaux dramatically presents pivotal inter-sections of race in California since the late 16th Century. With a libretto assembled as a pastiche of murderous short stories, tall tales, poetry that dreams of new worlds, and folk, pop, and native songs, the opera interrogates and celebrates California's cultural collisions, conflicts, and mixtures, from Sir Francis Drake's alleged landing in Marin,
to our time of scapegoating, racist immigration policy, and erecting walls on our southern border. "Tableaux I" will be premiered at UC Davis in November, 2020.
The audio clip represents a little over 17 min. of Tableau I. The amplified ensemble of mixed winds, string quartet, and rock band are realized with plugin instruments and myself providing all vocal and guitar parts. (Synopsis & Libretto here)
NorCal Water Music (2019)
for chamber ensemble
photo: Jonathan Reveles
NorCal Water Music is the third piece in a developing series of compositions that break the 'fourth wall' of concert music performance that I call The Modular Music Project, in which I integrate performers and interactivity between computers and 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 media platforms. With this piece and 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 in the playlist is the the world premiere of NorCal..., performed by Citywater at the Crocker Art Museum on Nov. 10, 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 sounds 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.
The remaining videos in the playlist here constitute the media that I project and make make available on my website for the audience to view on their mobile devices.
For a movement-by-movement set of time-points, please visit this video of the piece on my youtube page.
PDF of SCORE - 30': this score reflects the order in which the ensemble chose to play the movements and their components
The End Times Are a'Changin': fantasia on a theme by Dylan (2018) for guitar and socio-multimedia
This was the first piece composed for my Modular Music Project. In the video, Colin McAlllister and myself perform The End Times... at SoundOn 2019 (program notes here). 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, Colin determines an order of the
movements, to which I am not privy. Upon hearing each movement the improvised interludes between movements, I perform as video-jockey, choosing 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!). 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 piece was inspired by McAllister’s intellectual interests in apocalypticism and medieval eschatology and my ever-evolving approach to stylistic mixture.
The remaining videos in the playlist here constitute the media that I project and make make available on my website for the audience to play back on their mobile devices.
to which I am not privy.
PDF of SCORE - 17': this score reflects the order in which the the performer chose to play the movements.
For further interest, please visit the CURRENT PROJECTS page.
Mixtures~Crossfades~Foci (2013) for two guitars
This piece presents blues, jazz, and folk that sound singularly, coexist, or blend. hese 'musics' are sometimes mixed and decon-structed to make them sound radically different. For example, one of the central 'licks' of the piece borrows a refrain from a Chilean folk song ("Jugete de Amor") which may have been sung by a sailor (bemoaning his lover's toying with his heart) while leaving port from Chile on the way to the California Gold Rush. Sometimes this lick is turned into a groove. Other times, the lick serves as the punctuation of a section. At the end, the lick is re-contextualized to sound as if two dobro guitar players are playing the melody in hocket. The video above is a performance at the 2014 SoundOn festival in La Jolla, CA. I perform with my duo partner, Colin McAllister. We are the McAllister Keller Duo.
PDF of SCORE - 17'
For further interest, please visit the PERFORMANCE page
Impositions and Consequences (released on Tzadik, 2007) for soprano, tenor, ten. sax, e-guitar, contrabass, piano
(doubling mellotron), and drums
This piece was commissioned by John Zorn. It is the title track on an album of my music released on his label in 2007.
In this piece, I present three distinct musical realms that inhabit what most listeners might hear as heavy metal, jazz-fusion, and opera. While some of the movements explore one style in depth, the others realize the consequences that have been imposed on one another. This piece not only blurs the distinctions between the 'hi-lo' aesthetic divide, it also interweaves and fuses together the most compelling qualities without minimizing their respective histories and traditions.
PDF of SCORE - 14'