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New Piece Coming!

16 Mar

I’m working on a new piece to play with Geoff Deibel in Florida at the end of April! The tentative title is “Man was proud” and is for Tenor Saxophone, voice and electronics. I’m exploring a couple things with it:

I’ve been thinking about creation myths lately (with the help of my friend Corrina) and have been trying to marry it with some other ideas I’ve been wanting to use for a while. There will be some pop-style sampling, lots of indeterminacy in electronics, and live processing of voice and sax, making them sound like recordings from different ages. More coming soon!

Missing Partner

9 Sep

I made this piece to complete an animation assignment for a live theater projection class at MSU with Alison Dobbins. The piece is pretty straightforward, and the animation demonstrates my simple abilities with Adobe After Effects (CS 4). Here it is!

Missing Partner Score

Back To New York

8 Sep

Back to New York

This started as an old viola quartet with piano that I wrote years ago as a recording project about a friend.  This adaptation includes text about a person I met a couple of times in different dreams in a strange period of my dreaming life.  I kept meeting people, having completely regular interactions, small talk, learning their names and where they were from.  The character I describe in the text is one of those people – one that reminds me of the friend the quartet was originally about.

I ran into the dream character a number of times:  commiserating on a bus on the way to a conference in New York, painting in a cave offshoot of a basement of an abandoned dormitory cafeteria, at a punk show in Detroit…. After a music conference she presented at in New York, she showed me the beautiful ruins of an old pool in the main student union.  I recognized the pool as the one that used to be the end of a gauntlet in a recurring dream I had as a child, and she revealed to me that she used to be the monster at the bottom of the then-murky pool.  Strange stuff.

Hold it! Nobody Said Anything About Three Books!

8 Sep

“Hold it, nobody said anything about three books!”

Playing salsa is one of my favorite things to do these days.  So, what is this strange title and how is this instrumental salsa-styled tune dream influenced?  well…

One night, I was the character in the Duke Nukem video game, and I was all pixilated and 2D sideways, like in the game.  As I went around, shooting up monsters, there was some excellent videogame music going on, and I liked it enough to remember it and write it down in the morning after I woke up.  It had a pretty cheezy bassline, but I liked the harmony behind it.  I wrote some stuff over it back then, but nothing really came of it, until now!

So, the title:  Duke Nukem 3D uses audio samples from the movie Army of Darkness for its main character’s voice acting:  phrases like “Gimme some sugar,” and “Groovy.” I’m using a bit of music from the dream version of what that game’s music is like, sort of like how the makers of the game took a tiny bit of what the movie is like for their game.  For fun, I looked for other things Bruce Campbell (the one that acts in Army of Darkness) says, and decided on this one.  If you want, you can call it “Hold it” for short.

Download The Score!

a to b equals c

25 Jul

I wrote this for my good friends Shawn Teichmer and Jamie Lewis.  They were very patient with me, and premiered it at the College where they teach, Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and at NASA in the Spring of 2010.

This piece explores three different relationships that can occur between musicians, those that are humans and those that are computers.

The first movement is acoustic, with the piano and saxophone developing some material.  All the while, the computer listens and remembers.

In the second movement, the computer drives.  It starts with a footswitch trigger, and goes.  The computer is making lots of sound, and continues to listen to the humans, and comments a little, but mostly doesn’t pay attention.

In the third movement, the computer and humans are supposed to play together, but the computer stops listening completely, like a crappy person in your chamber group.  It’s hard to play a 3/2 clave together when the rhythm section isn’t listening…

a->b=c mvt. 1 score

a->b=c mvt. 3 score


8 Sep

“But in real life, I never had a focus.”
“Steh (like stay, but a little different in German) while I try to drive you home.”

These are the two lines I used to sing in the shower, to the two main melodies in this string quartet. Two characters speak. One has no motivation to get out of their rut, so inebriated with the idea they have failed that they give up and lament the times when they had a chance. The other character is trying to convince the other that they are just stuck in a dream and are being silly, trying to help them get back to a more reasonable perspective. I find myself often fluctuating between these two poles of detachment: going within so far that I fail to recognize how I was ever attached to anyone, and reaching out so far that I focus on others without ever sharing myself.

So, I wanted to make a recording project about this, including more text and a post-rock band arrangement, but I dumped it into a string quartet I did with my friends in the spring of 2005. I changed the end after the premiere in 2005, using audio-filters and speed effects to generate changes in timbre. In this updated version, we try to reproduce acoustically the modifications I previously made electronically.

focusv2c – score

Impending Green

24 Jul

2008 – Alto Saxophone or Viola and Pure Data – Nate Bliton

I wrote this for my friend Shawn Teichmer and it has developed into what is my first fully-fledged piece for a separate performer and electronics.


With this piece, I wanted to take effects and compositional devices commonly found in classical and popular electronic music, and employing them in real time.  Maybe my favorite compositional device in electronic music, cutting up a recording and reassembling it, in a different order, in a rhythmic figure, or to create a new texture, is easy to do on a computer with audio editing software (if time-intensive), but it would be very difficult to move one’s mouse fast enough and with such accuracy to be able to “play the computer” along with another musician in a performance.  This Pure Data patch plays this part, sampling the musician’s playing through out the piece for later use, applying reverb and pitch-shifters, and taking turns following and leading the musician, as the score dictates.  The computer is listening for pitches and rests to know where in the score the musician is playing and how fast the musician is taking the piece, and accordingly follows a list of instructions dictating when to record, when and at which tempo to play back and when to apply different effects to the musician’s amplified sound.  All of the sounds played by the computer come from the performer over the course of the piece, and can be played by any instrument capable of playing the range of pitches dictated in the musician’s part of the score.

Alto Sax Version

Viola Version

Impending Green Instructions

Impending Green – Alto Sax Part

Human Language

8 Sep

A Human Language

This piece was partly about my slow acceptance of atonal music early in my undergrad. This PD patch generates tones at random frequencies within a specified set, the user also haveing control over the frequency and volume of their occurence.
Its second function is slicing up and sequencing an audio input which can be looped. The audio slicer will cut up conversation of the listening audience in a way that will render it recognizable as speech, but unintelligible as language. To me, this was what anything but the most tonally clear music was up my new education in college. So, in this I’m trying to draw the comparison of atonal music to the untrained ear to idle conversation to someone who doesn’t understand English.

For the piece, I control the recording, volume and frequency of occurence with a keyboard controller, so while the specific notes and rhythms are randomly generated by the computer, I have full control over the general direction of the piece.

out-in sound

24 Jul

2006 – electroacoustic

This was a piece reflecting on my process of making music in my basement.  You hear the same sounds I hear in my creative process, and I had fun using the sounds of my environment to make the music.  Product and process in one 🙂


24 Jul

2006 – electroacoustic

This is an electronic piece using a single sample from MSU’s BBC sound effects library of a man yelling something like “whatho!” Using Soundfont in my Cakewalk sequencer, I tried to interpret my friend’s poem titled “As the dawn advances…” The text is as follows:

Bringing brilliance to the earth,
The sun awakens animation in spring.
The sound of the sinuous water,
A gentle, resonating voice,
Harmonizing with the birds,
Who play on tufts of wind.

A gentle caress to the cheek,
Or a demanding push to the back,
The wind is a sentient being,
That rustles the leaves,
Who follow a mystifying beat,
Like a chorus in an unwritten symphony.

Peals of blissful laughter,
On the lips of the fresh unborn,
Ring true through the dawning of days,
And fade on the cool, tranquil nights.
Bringing serenity to the earth,
The moon brings a respite in the spring.

— Connie Huh

The original plan was to compose a tonal interpretation of the poem and combine “dawn1” and “dawn2” into “dawn3,” which would be a piece for guitar, non-lyrical vocals and computer.