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Works for clarinet/bass clarinet

Old Growth (2013) 15’30"
Bass clarinet and fixed media (audio and optional video), 4 movements
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Backing audio tracks are included with the purchase of this score; optional video and click tracks are also available upon request. To access, and for more information, please contact info@airplaneears.com

PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
The four movements of Old Growth are inspired by and composed around archival, mid-20th century field recordings from Africa and Indonesia. The backing tracks all use samples from these recordings, looped and filtered in various ways, and combined with other electronics. Mugangara, Malume, and Mugasha contain samples from the CD “Tanzania Instruments 1950,” originally recorded by Hugh Tracey for the Institute of African Music. They are used with permission of SWP Records. The musicians on the original tracks are: Mugangara - Ruthahindurwa Lukaka; Malume - Ngaina Nolo & Mtonya Bota; Mugasha - Habib Bin Seliman. Wargasari is built around Balinese vocalist Ni Lemon's 1928 recording of the same name with the Janger Abian Timbul group, originally recorded for Odeon. The remastered original track, Kidung Wargasari, is available on the “Roots of Gamelan Volume 2” CD and is used with the permission of World Arbiter Records.
Hive (2007) 17'
clarinet quartet - 2 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Hive grows out of my experience as an amateur beekeeper, in both sound and structure. Honeybee society predates our own, and in many ways the encounter with the apis is like encountering extraterrestrials, full of shocking similarities and profound differences. Hive is not strictly programmatic, but it does contain elements that come directly out of this encounter. For example, happy bees seem to vibrate a collective "A"; when agitated, this rises to a "C": this is the source of the opening oscillations in the music. The overall shape of the piece - swirls and flight patterns, frenzied accruals, followed by a long, zen-like stasis - mirrors the larger life-cycle of the hive, where the summer's buzz of activity is followed by a unique quasi-hibernation, the throng bundling together for warmth and protection, patiently vibrating their way through the winter. Recording the piece in frozen Minnesota during January, this seemed especially apt.

Commissioned by the University of Minnesota, Duluth for Theodore Schoen
Big Grenadilla (2006) 15'
Concerto for bass clarinet and chamber orchestra: solo bc/1.1.1.1/1.1.1.1/3 perc/pno/hp/strgs min 4-4-3-2-2

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Big Grenadilla was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, with myself as soloist. Bass clarinet is the instrument I know best, thrust into my hands in high school, and never far from me since. Musicians and their instruments, in hand and mouth, mind and body: metaphors come quickly. It’s a life partner, and I write for it as I would write for another human being, ideally using my music to reveal the instrument’s own physical and spiritual character. Of course this is ventriliqual, a story I tell myself. In practical terms, the vocabulary of Big Grenadilla is contoured to the acoustic characteristics of the horn, rather than the other way around.

The concerto is traditionally a heroic form, which doesn’t jibe well with an egalitarian approach to music. But given the chance to be at stage front amid New York’s finest musicians, it would be foolish to squander the occasion. “Big Grenadilla” is my second bass clarinet/large ensemble work: five years before it, I composed and performed “Drill,” for bass clarinet and wind ensemble, casting myself in the role of drill sergeant, leading the troops through a vigorous basic training. But in this work, among colleagues, the soloist and conductor are first among equals, leading a boisterous band, er, orchestra.

The title: grenadilla is a dense, strong dark wood that is often mistaken for ebony. It continues to grow in abundance on the African steppe. It is the primary wood for many instruments, including the bass clarinet, whose bottom joint alone is a single piece 30 inches in length. Big grenadilla, yearning for its living, rooted reality, with the orchestra providing the dreamscape.

Big Grenadilla was premiered in Carnegie's Zankel Hall in 2006, with Brad Lubman conducting the American Composers Orchestra. 60 years earlier, in that same building, Woody Herman premiered Stravinsky’s pocket-sized “Ebony Concerto”. Title aside, I claim no conscious connection to this masterpiece, but simply bow my head in homage. It is the Kilimanjaro of my own African landscape. We steppe-dwellers continue to gaze up in awe.
Drill (2002) 10'
Concerto for bass clarinet and wind ensemble: solo bc/pic, 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 1 bc, 2 bsn, cbsn, ssax, asax, tsax, bsax, 4 hn, 4 trpt, 3 trb, 1 btrb, 1 euph, 1 tuba, 1 cb, 5 perc

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
The concerto form springs from romanticism: its default metaphor is that of the heroic individual, emerging from and exalted by his fellow man. This is not really my thing, but I do have a strong desire to make music with my wind brethren, to do things on our instruments together. Having taught for over a decade, I am also conscious of the complex ways in which teachers and students relate, and this piece reflects this, at least in my mind. In war movies and sitcoms, it's always struck me that the drill sergeant works at least as hard as the recruits, running alongside, exhorting and cajoling to be sure, but never really asking them to do things he himself couldn't or wouldn't do. Not that that necessarily has anything to do with the title of this piece, I just thought I'd mention it. Drill is the first of a projected three-movement work, written for Fred Harris and the MIT Wind Ensemble.

commissioned by the MIT Wind Ensemble, Fred Harris, director
Four Impersonations (1999) 18'
solo clarinet
Honshirabe (4:00) Bindu Semara (5:30) Thum Nyatiti (2:30) Pengrangrang Gede (5:30)

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Four Impersonations consists of four movements, all based closely on careful transcriptions of melodies from other cultures. Each requires a few particular extended techniques, all explained in the preparatory notes to each movement.

In Balinese trance, as in many similar traditions throughout the world, subjects are inhabited by specific people or entities who speak through them. Their voice remains their own, but the words they speak are foreign to them, often in ancient or foreign languages they themselves do not understand. In these pieces the voices of three different cultures - Japanese shakuhachi ("Honshirabe"), Balinese gamelan ("Pengrangrang Gde" and “Bindu Semara”), and East African nyatiti ("Thum Nyatiti") - speak through the clarinet. As a rational westerner, I've transcribed and translated, found ways to play them, but as a trance subject-wannabe I leave the interpretation to others.

Four Impersonations was completed in 2000, and is recorded on This Is Not A Clarinet (Cantaloupe 21002)
Partial Truths (1999) 17'
solo bass clarinet

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Partial Truths (1999) is my longest work for solo bass clarinet to date, part of my ongoing efforts to reflect on my own relationship to my instrument, and thus to music making in general. The title is deliberately ambiguous, but refers at least in part to acoustical ‘partials’ (overtones), in that the musical substance resides in the entire overtone spectrum rather than simply in the fundamentals. Melodies and harmonies rise out of the physical reality of the instrument, imply and insinuate, then merge back into the ether. It is dedicated to Arnold Dreyblatt.
Tsmindao Ghmerto (1994) 4'
solo bc/pic

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Tsmindao Ghmerto is based on Zakaria Paliashvili’s (1871-1933) stunning setting of the hymn of the same name, a Sanctus from the liturgy of the Georgian Orthodox Church. To replicate 3-part choral harmony on the bass clarinet, an instrument generally regarded as monophonic, the soloist is asked to hum perfectly tuned drone notes into the instrument almost continuously throughout the piece. Intonation is much more important than volume, particularly in the hummed part – it doesn’t have to be as loud as the sound of the bass clarinet itself. If the notes are in tune, whatever their volume, the original harmonies will not only be felt but will be enhanced by overtones and other aural artifacts, expected and unexpected, any and all of which are desirable.

Please also be mindful of the lyrics of the original, which are:
Tsmindao Ghmerto Holy God
Tsmindao Zliero Holy mighty
Tsmindao Ukvdao Holy immortal
Shegvitskalen chven. Have mercy on us

The hummed ‘vocal’ line is indicated on a separate staff but to be done by the same player, much like the left hand in a piano part. It is transposed to B-flat so that the performer can more easily conceptualize the intervallic relationships between the two parts.

Tsmindao Ghmerto was recorded by Evan Ziporyn and released as part of Bang on a Can: Cheating, Lying, Stealing (Sony Classical, 1996). Subsequently re-released on Bang on a Can Classics (Cantaloupe Music, 2002).

A 7-minute version of Tsmindao Ghmerto for bass clarinet and wind ensemble is available in print edition only. For more information contact info@airplaneears.com
Walk the Dog (1990) 25'
Bass clarinet and fixed media (audio)

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Access to fixed media tracks: backing audio tracks are included with the purchase of this score, please contact info@airplaneears.com for more information.

PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Walk the Dog is a one-movement concerto for bass clarinet and tape, originally conceived (in 1988/9, for my doctorate at UC Berkeley) as an orchestra piece. As work progressed I realized that what I really wanted was an impossibility, at least for me at that time: a world ensemble, with Egyptian film orchestra strings, Gambian harps, Balinese genggong, Shona mbira, digjeridoos, etc. So I scrapped the orchestral version and enlisted Ted Kuhn, a wonderful musician who had both a good sample library (a rarity in those days) and the ear to know what to do with it. As a result, the sonic texture of the piece matches its melodies and rhythms, which are also East/West, electro/acoustic hybrids. Deep thanks to Ted and his sonic creativity for his huge contribution to this piece.

Be-In (1990) 9'
VERSIONS AVAILABLE:
Bass clarinet and string quartet
3 Clarinets, 2 bass clarinets
Amplified Sextet (clarinet, drums, mandolin, electric piano, cello, bass)

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
My earliest goal in life - formulated during a 1968 trip to San Francisco with my parents - was to be a hippie. My family drove our Ford Country Squire from Chicago, we went to Haight-Ashbury to gawk, and I was hooked. At age 13 I spent a week at my aunt's Ann Arbor commune and my aspirations were confirmed. Only later was this replaced by the marginally more respectable goal of writing music. The two remain intertwined: anything I've done that was musically worthwhile was made possible by the 60s. Everyone who was anyone was reaching out to non-western music - not just Stockhausen and the Beatles, but also B.J. Thomas and the Partridge Family - all 'went raga' at some point or another. Much of my work is built around the anomalies and contradictions of cross-cultural exchange, but in this piece there are no such problems: gestures from a variety of genres are combined as if all that were needed to make them get along were good will and positive energy. Would that it were so...

The original version of Be-in was written very quickly, for a group called "Evan and the All-stars," which gave a single performance in Hartford, in 1991. I had only recently gotten my first computer – a MacPlus with a 20MB external hard drive – and this was one of the first pieces I didn’t notate by hand. Surprise surprise, the system crashed, I lost everything, so what you will hear is only a memory of the piece I originally wrote. It has had several other incarnations, re-orchestrated for the Michael Gordon Philharmonic, for a baroque-folk consort, for string orchestra, and for clarinet choir. The C-drone that starts the piece is homage to Terry Riley and to the late violist John Lad, who played it dozens of time, and who was himself a participant in the original 'be-in,' in San Francisco on January 14, 1967, the official start of the Age of Aquarius.
What She Saw There (1988) 13'
bass clarinet (or cello) and 2 marimbas

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
What She Saw There was written in Indonesia in the fall of 1987. I was at that time listening to a lot of epic songs in languages I didn't understand, such as Mandarin, Swahili, and Balinese. This piece attempts to evoke a feeling of abstracted narrative, to tell a tale about an unspecified, incomprehensible place, in an equally slippery language. In the process, many semi-recognizable musical styles with which I felt myself to be familiar get "retold". The original version was for cello, and was commissioned (my first: $300, which I was very grateful to get) and premiered by Mary Artmann, accompanied by marimbists William Winant and John Keith.

Waiting By The Phone (1986) 12'
solo clarinet

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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Like all my clarinet music, I wrote this for myself, in 1985/6; at that time I didn’t really consider the possibility of another player trying to decipher my intentions. So the original version had no instructions other than the markings at the beginning of each section. I later typed up the explanations printed on the page preceding the score, with the intention of giving players the same latitude I gave myself regarding dynamics, tempo, timbre, etc. This basically comes down to: feel free.

Waiting by the Phone is, from an admittedly subjective perspective, a cognitive self-portrait, an attempt to convey a way of being (thought, action, experience) that, for better or worse, prevailed within me in the mid-1980s. Something related to John Lennon’s 'life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” This piece being the feeling of that particular ‘what happens.’ In common with many composers writing for melodic instruments, I attempt to give the illusion of polyphony, multiple lines, harmony. In true polyphony no single voice prevails: here this combines with a wandering sense of tempo to project a somewhat diffuse consciousness, only gradually and ephemerally becoming aware of its own nature. There are four sections, the first three quite roughly modeled on Hindustani alap, jhala, and tal. The fourth and final section came out of late nights rehearsing in Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, where I could roam the huge stage and go up and down the aisles while playing, then stop to regard the resonance gradually turning into silence.
Two Obsessions (1980) 15'
solo clarinet
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PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER:
Two Obsessions were my first pieces for solo clarinet, composed in Oakland, CA in the summer of 1980, and completed in a mad rush in New Haven for a premiere at a Yale student composers concert that fall. I had gone to California based on a cold-call to a total stranger, Michael Tenzer, who had just started Gamelan Sekar Jaya. Michael kindly invited me to join for the summer, and that in itself was life-changing. While there I also met and had the opportunity to hang out with flute god Robert Dick, who was briefly concertizing in the Bay Area. His galactic mastery of extended techniques was mind-blowing to me, so I asked him how I could go about learning them on the clarinet. He told me to 'just dig around in there, you'll find some things.' I'm still digging, but these are the first things I found.

Works for Gamelan

Hujan Arja (2012) 12'
Balinese gamelan semara dana (7-toned gong kebyar)
Lapanbelas (2010) 18'
Balinese gamelan semara dana (7-toned gong kebyar)
Bali Tiba (from A House in Bali) (2009) 7'
Balinese gamelan gong kebyar
Bayu Sabda Idep (2007) 27'
Just Intonation slendro chamber gamelan and chamber string orchestra

Instrumentation:
Pelog Balinese trompong or reong (in approximate ISI tuning, notated C#-ding D-dong E-deng G#-dung A-dang)
8 custom designed 'Beta Gamelan' gender (2 kantil, 2 pemade, 2 jublag, 2 jegogan, notated F#-dong A-deng B-dung C#-dang E-ding, designated ‘high/low’ for pengisep/pengumbang divisi)
Balinese gong set: wadon, lanang, kempur, kenong
Balinese kendang kebyar
Strings (minimum 4-4-3-3-1), tuned approximately to A=443 (i.e., 12 cents sharp)

Notes:
Bayu Sabda Idep (Energy Voice Idea) comprise the Balinese concept of 'Tri Premane' (3 life forces), which together distinguish humanity from plants (who have life-energy but no voice) and animals (who have energy and voice but no abstract thought). The ability to control, balance, and project these forces is understood by the Balinese to be the distinguishing mark of great performers, particularly the great shadow-puppet masters or dalang. This piece is in three large sections, which in turn emphasize one of these forces. The first movement, Idep, builds on an exoskeletal formal architecture; the second, Bayu, is propelled by rhythmic motion; the third, Sabda, simply sings. I wrote the piece in the wake of the death of my teacher, the great gender wayang master Wayan Loceng, with whom I studied in the late 1980s. An unrelentingly demanding teacher, Pak Wayan's musical virtuosity was matched by his knowledge of the wayang (shadow play) itself, and it was said that he had had a hand in the training of all the great dalang of Sukawati Village, the center of puppetry in Bali, where he lived his entire life. A dalang is a revered, quasi-religious figure in Bali; his musicians 'follow' him for a fraction of his wages and little or no personal recognition. Pak Wayan thus spent much of his performing career in the shadow of his own students, but more importantly in the service of an ancient art-form that was far more important to him than renown or wealth. I began this piece around the same time I learned of his death, and I felt his presence continually, not in a literal sense but in a compulsion to compose a work that would reflect his human and artistic values.

Most of the Balinese instruments in this piece were custom-made for this project and are non-traditional in tuning and design. Traditional Balinese instruments are tuned in distinctive, non-tempered scales which only match western tuning by coincidence. I have written for these wonderfully unwieldy bi-cultural combinations for many years, but in this piece I wanted something else: a tuning that would allow for the possibility of harmonization and consonance with western instruments while still having a distinctive, non-tempered character. The tuning I designed is an attempt to 'square the circle' - combining the basic structure of the Balinese slendro scale with principles of just intonation, that is, simple intervallic ratios, and centering the tones on a more-or-less precisely tuned 'A'. (I say more-or-less because the end result was slightly different than that which I had specified, but it sounded so good that we retained it!). Thus the melodies and harmonies constantly move in and out of the realm of the recognizable over the course of the piece. The instruments were built by Pande Made Sukerta of Blahbatuh. The project as a whole is the brainchild of Karl Middleman, who called me out of the blue and bravely went along with the whole scheme.

Bayu Sabda Idep is commissioned by the New Philadelphia Classical Symphony - Karl Middleman, Artistic Director - as part of its 'Gateways to Global Music' series, and is made possible through the generous support of the Philadelphia Music Project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and administered by the University of the Arts. Premier performances are April 20 and 21, 2007 at the Trinity Life Center and Westtown School, respectively.
Cu(Bali)Bre (2007) 3'30"
gender wayang duo
Sabar Gong (2005) 5' (in collaboration w/Lamine Touré)
Balinese gamelan with Senegalese Sabar drums
Aradhana (2004) 15'






Balinese gamelan with Chinese pipa

This piece brings together two extraordinary musical forces – one soloist and one group - from two separate Asian classical traditions. Chinese and Balinese music have some similarities to outside ears, but in many ways they are further from each other than either is to western music. These are complete traditions, and there is really no compelling musical reason to make them come together, other than the joy of exploration, of finding the beauty in both the unexpected connections and discrepancies. It was composed for and premiered by Wu Man and Gamelan Galak Tika, performers who have all in their own ways devoted themselves to these cross-cultural explorations.

The piece calls for some unusual techniques, most prominently the use of cello bows to make sustained sounds in the gamelan. The title comes from ‘arad,’ the old Javanese word for bowing, which also means to pull or create. Other related words are ‘peng-arad’ - a draft horse; ‘arad-aradan’ – to attract, to lure; ‘peng-arad-an’ the bow of the rebab; and finally, ‘aradhana’ – to call up from a distance or from the unseen.
Ngaben (for Sari Club) (2003) 15'
Balinese gamelan & orchestra



A terrorist bomb destroyed the Sari Club in Kuta Beach, Bali on October 12, 2002. I had just begun working on a very different type of piece for gamelan and orchestra, but the printed images of Balinese women crying and praying at the blast site overwhelmed me and changed the direction of the music.

The ngaben cremation is the last and most important life ritual in Balinese Hinduism. Like a traditional New Orleans funeral, it encompasses a wide range of emotions. The entire village participates, preparations are extensive, and the overall mood is decidedly unmournful. The loss is acknowledged, but it is subsumed by the far more important task of releasing the soul from the body. The procession itself is serious but chaotic and circuitous: the raised, highly ornamented sarcophagus must be spun around violently at all intersections in order to confuse evil spirits. The burning itself, where the soul ascends to await its next incarnation, follows this.

This Ngaben follows the same course, in ways that will be readily apparent. The two sections are fused together by a central kebyar, the highly charged, ametric-but-synchronous tutti which characterizes modern Balinese music.

Ironically, the term kebyar means ‘explosion,’ though it is normally described as a flower bursting into bloom, or a flash of lightning in the sky. Historically, kebyar arose in response to the violent takeover of Bali by the Dutch at the dawn of the 20th century; that tragedy thus sparked a renaissance of art and cross-cultural exchange on the island which has lasted until this day. This piece, a response to the violence which starts this century, is a small offering in the hope that the east-west exchange will continue undaunted.
Kebyar Kebyar (2002) 7'
Balinese gamelan gong kebyar
Amok! (1996) 32'
six movements for Balinese gamelan, double bass (or cello), percussion sampler, keyboard sampler



Commissioned by ReadersDigest/Meet the Composer, for Gamelan Galak Tika and Basso Bongo (Robert Black, bass, and Amy Knoles, percussion)

First performance: May 10, 1997, Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, MA - Gamelan Galak Tika and Basso Bongo
Recording: Gamelan Galak Tika (New World) 2000 - Gamelan Galak Tika, Evan Ziporyn, director; Robert Black, bass; Dan Schmidt, keyboard sampler

INSTRUMENTATION
Amplified Cello (or Double Bass) w/real-time distortion, delay & harmonizer
Amplified Keyboard sampler (88-key, touch sensitive) w/real-time delay
Amplified Percussion sampler (12-pad, touch sensitive) w/real-time delay
Balinese gamelan gong kebyar in saih selisir (5-tone pelog) tuning: 3-6 suling, 4 reong, 1 ugal, 4 pemade, 4 kantil, 2 jublag (+ 2 optional penyecah), 2 jegogan, 1-2 kendang, 1 ceng-ceng, 1 kempli, 1 gong (agung-kempur-kemong)

PERFORMANCE NOTES
Amok! is in six movements – 1-3 segue without a break; 4-6 all begin after slight pauses. The length of the pauses to be determined by the performers, but short enough to allow for a direct sense of continuity. The score includes extensives notes and technical information on tuning, samples, processing techniques, etc. Issues of pitch aside, ‘standard’ notation (i.e., metric & linear, following the conventions of western music) is used in 1,2, 3, 4 & 5. The score to Amok 6 is a set of directions. Throughout, a variety of non-standard notational practices are used to deal with the unique nature of the instrumentation and the idiosyncrasies of the harmonic, rhythmic and formal language.

PROGRAM NOTES
Amok! is one of the few common English language words taken directly from Malay/Indonesian. The others are 'ketchup' (soy sauce) and 'orangutan (forest person), and neither seemed to suit this piece. When I wrote it, in 1996, real-time processing and nimble sample manipulation were just coming into their own, and I sought to explore the contrast between the endless possibilities of electronics - where any sound is possible if you can only figure out how to make it - and the 'rooted in the real'-ness of the gamelan - its finite 5-toned scale emitting an infinity of overtones and sonic richness . This contrast governs the piece, with the sampler using only the sounds of the gamelan, transposed and uprooted to create new melodic and harmonic possibilities. A melody starts in a pentatonic gamelan and winds up somewhere else; a rhythm moves to the bass and is then overlaid with digital effects - delays and harmonizations - to create something else entirely, each element recontextualizing the other.
Tire Fire (1994) 25'
Balinese gamelan, two electric guitars, electric bass, and keyboard (or mandolin)



Tire Fire was originally written for Gamelan Sekar Jaya but has since become Galak Tika'a anthem. Combining traditional gamelan instruments with a battery of western technology (2 guitars, bass,and keyboard), the work is both an examination and celebration of cultural diversity. Kaleidoscopically blending tuning systems, playing techniques, and formal ideas from west and east (i.e., interlocking parts and metric modulations), the piece ranges in feel from archaic Balinese dance forms such as gandrung to Grateful Dead jams. As ethnomusicologist Marc Perlman put it "what you hear will depend on where you are sitting in cultural space."
Aneh Tapi Nyata (1992) 14'
chamber ensemble and Balinese percussion



Instrumentation:
European instruments: female voice, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet. electric guitar. 2 electric mandolins, violin, cello, triangle
Balinese instruments: reong (pelog), gender wayang (slendro), tingklet (joged slendro), ceng-ceng, kempli, 3 gongs, 2 kendang, preferably legong size

TEXT
The text, as follows, is by the composer:
Apa arti dunia ini?
Mengembara, cari jamu pantas tamu untuk mengobatkan ngeri...
Zaman kami hilang tradisi - mana beli?
Kalau bisa, minta sisah dari banten masih asli...
Baru tiba membuka kopor saya - di dalam, selalu soal ikut jalan
Aneh tapi nyata
Lagu barat dinyanyi diiringi campuran begini...
Berkumpul sampai terpisah - sementara peleburan
Manis asam, terserah penonton

(What is the meaning of it all?
Wander around, look for a tonic fit for a foreigner to cure anxiety...
Our era has lost all tradition - where can it be bought?
If I may, I ask for the leftovers from still-authentic offerings...
Newly arrived I open my suitcase - inside, all my problems have come along
Strange but true
A western song accompanied by this mixture...
Gather together until forced apart - a momentary fusion
Sweet or sour, it's up to the listener)

Commissioning Info
Aneh Tapi Nyata was commissioned by Gamelan Sekar Jaya with the support of the Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program. It was premiered at the Marin Community Center in May 1992 and at the Bali International Arts Festival in July.
Aneh Tapi Nyata was composed for Gamelan Sekar Jaya, on the occasion of their second tour to Bali in 1992. I had recently left the group to move east, and only on leaving did I realize what an extraordinary thing it was to have Americans devote themselves so passionately to another culture. I felt it important that the group show itself to the Balinese, in all our ragtag, hybrid splendor. Instrumentation was dictated by whoever was around and whatever they could play, at whatever skill level (the violinist, for example, had an extremely firm command of the open strings). I compensated for tuning and genre discrepancies by highlighting them: the gamelan instruments are also taken from a variety of ensembles in a variety of intonations.
Kekembangan (1990) 16'
(in collaboration with I Nyoman Windha)
saxophone quartet and Balinese gamelan



Kekembangan (1990) is based on I Nyoman Windha’s Kembang Pencak, a piece for Balinese gong kebyar which accompanies choreography by I Nyoman Catra. That original piece was revised by Ziporyn and Windha to include these saxophone parts. The original piece is played in its entirety, with certain sections (notably Part Four) expanded. It was premiered in April, 1990 in Berkeley, California by Gamelan Sekar Jaya with saxophonists Randy McKean, Chris Jonas, Evan Ziporyn, and Dan Plonsey. It was later performed at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco – it has not been performed since.

In keeping with traditional practice, the Balinese parts were transmitted by ear, while the saxophonists learned from these parts. At present no score of the gamelan parts exists. The saxophone parts were originally written on Professional Composer software (now obsolete) and revised by hand during rehearsal. This score was made directly from those hand-written parts, and reflects what the players read during the first (and only) set of performances. It is expected that the players are taking their cues from the gamelan.

Certain sections are labelled ‘alternate fingerings;’ others call for ‘normal fingerings.’ This is to account for tuning discrepancies between the gamelan and the saxophones. All gamelan tunings are non-tempered and unique (i.e., no two sets are alike), and this piece is designed to work with any Balinese gamelan that conforms to prevalent tendencies, specifically, that ‘ding’ is an approximate C-sharp, while ‘dang’ is an approximate ‘A.’ Discrepancies larger than this should be taken on a case-by-case basis, but it’s unlikely that the piece will sound as intended in such circumstances.

In the ‘alternate fingering’ sections, players are encouraged to find fingerings which feel more ‘in tune’ with the gamelan tuning. In these sections, either all players should play these fingerings or no one should! In the ‘normal fingering’ sections, all players should play standard saxophone fingerings, regardless of the tuning of the gamelan.
Night Bus (1990) 12'
Sundanese gamelan (commisioned by the Toronto Border Crossings Festival for the Evergreen Club)

Works for Theater/Opera

Skin for Skin (2016-19) in progress
opera based on the Book of Job
A House in Bali (2009) 90'




opera based on the memoir of Colin McPhee, for amplified sextet (gtr, perc, pno, vln, vc, cb), Balinese gamelan, two tenors, one soprano, and four Balinese actors/dancers
Oedipus Rex (2004) 90''
Greek choruses and onstage incidental music the American Repertory Theater productionof the original Sophocles tragedy. Directed by Robert Woodruff, Loeb Theater, Cambridge, MA
ShadowBang (2001) 90'
full-length theater work for Balinese dalang (shadow puppeteer) and Bang on a Can Allstars.


Commissioned by Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program for I Wayan Wija and Bang on a Can Allstars; premiered October 2001 at MIT Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, and MassMOCA, North Adams, MA

1) Head 1
2) Head 2/Scene 1
3) Angkat
4) Ocean
5) Meditasi/Pesta Raksasa
6) Frogs (I Wayan Wija)
7) Forest/Tari Subali/Quiet Battle/Loud Battle/Priest's Curse
8) Tabuh Gari

All compositions except "Frogs" by Evan Ziporyn, ©2001 Airplane Ears Music (ASCAP)

Shadow Bang is a theater piece combining aspects of Balinese traditional shadow puppetry with western stage design and music. Like all Balinese wayang, it is based the Hindu epics, in this case a very tangential episode from the Ramayana. In keeping with tradition, Pak Wija embellishes and digresses, creating stories within stories and focusing on Balinese folk characters who have been inserted into the original Indian story over the years. While the gods and heroes of Hindu mythology sing and speak in stylized Kawi language, the Balinese characters - Twalen, Merdah, Sangut and Delam - speak in everyday language (in this case, English) and serve as a bridge between the cosmic and the mundane. This is a live recording, trimmed of sections that require dialogue or visuals to be enjoyed. A brief synopsis: SCENE 1 - the brothers Sangut and Delam philosophize and insult one another while waiting for their master, the demon Dundhubhi.
ANGKAT - Dunhdubhi's army goes forth, seeking suitable enemies to conquer.
OCEAN – Arriving at water’s edge, the brothers stand in awe, waiting for Dundhubhi to challenge the Ocean itself to battle. Ocean declines the challenge: its liquid form and ebb-and-flow make it too passive. It suggests Mountain as a more worthy opponent, and the demon departs.
MEDITASI/PESTA RAKSASA - A hermit wanders atop the mountain, preparing to meditate. He is interrupted by Dunhdubhi’s army, who throw a party. Mountain also refuses battle, claiming immobility, and sends Dundhubhi to fight Subali, the Monkey King.
FROGS – Sounds of the forest, a solo chorus by Pak Wija.
FOREST - Twalen and his son Merdah , servants to the Monkey King, cavort with various animals while waiting for Subali’s arrival.
TARI SUBALI - Subali dances, and Dundhubhi challenges him to battle..
QUIET BATTLE/LOUD BATTLE/PRIEST'S CURSE – The demon and monkey do battle in various incarnations; Subali finally vanquishes Dundhubhi, casting his body atop the sacred mountain. Priest Matanga, caretaker of the mountain, curses Subali for despoiling his land.
TABUH GARI - The story ends, the puppets are purified and go home.

Produced by Evan Ziporyn
Recorded live, October 14, 2001 - Kresge Little Theater, MIT, Cambridge, MA
Recording Engineer: Joel Gordon
Mix and Edit: Evan Ziporyn and Christine Southworth
Final Mix, Edit and Mastering: Rob Friedman

The creation of Shadow Bang was made possible in part with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation. The premiere was co-sponsored by the MIT Office for the Arts, Music and Theater Arts, and MassMoca. The recording was made possible by a grant from the Aaron Copland Foundation. Special thanks to Kenan Sahin, Philip Khoury, Maureen Costello, Erin McCoy, Leo and Ava Ziporyn.

to Leonardo

personnel:
I Wayan wija, vocalizations
BANG ON A CAN ALL-STARS
Robert Black, bass
Eduardo Leandro, percussion
Lisa Moore, keyboard
Mark Stewart, guitar
Wendy Sutter, cello
Evan Ziporyn, soprano saxophone and clarinets

Production directed by Paul Schick, lighting by Barry Steele, produced by Kenny Savelson

Works for Orchestra

Tabla Concerto: Mumbai (2011) 25'
tabla solo, strings and percussion



commissioned by Meet the Composer
Hard Drive (2007) 18'
orchestra with electric guitar
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets in B-flat, 1 Bass clarinet in B-flat, 2 Bassoons, 1 Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets in B-flat, 2 Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 1 Tuba
Percussion 1: Bass Drum, 2 Congas, Cowbell, Glockenspiel, Guiro, Shaker, Suspended Cymbal, 2 Toms, 5 Woodblocks
Percussion 2: Bass Drum, Chinese Cymbal, Congas, Cowbell, Glockenspiel, Tambourine, Tam-tam, 5 Temple Blocks, 2 Toms
2 Drum Kits, Timpani, Harp, Electric Guitar w/compression/sustain, distortion, and volume pedal
Strings (mininum 8/8/8/8/3): Violin I ABCD, Violin II ABCD, Viola ABCD, Violoncello ABCD, Bass

Commissioned by Bank of America Celebrity Series for Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; premiered May 19, 2007, Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bayu Sabda Idep (2007) 27'
("Energy Voice Idea")
chamber string orchestra with gamelan
Instrumentation:
Pelog Balinese trompong or reong (in approximate ISI tuning, notated C#-ding D-dong E-deng G#-dung A-dang)
8 custom designed 'Beta Gamelan' gender (2 kantil, 2 pemade, 2 jublag, 2 jegogan, notated F#-dong A-deng B-dung C#-dang E-ding, designated ‘high/low’ for pengisep/pengumbang divisi)
Balinese gong set: wadon, lanang, kempur, kenong
Balinese kendang kebyar
Strings (minimum 4-4-3-3-1), tuned approximately to A=443 (i.e., 12 cents sharp)

Notes:
Bayu Sabda Idep (Energy Voice Idea) comprise the Balinese concept of 'Tri Premane' (3 life forces), which together distinguish humanity from plants (who have life-energy but no voice) and animals (who have energy and voice but no abstract thought). The ability to control, balance, and project these forces is understood by the Balinese to be the distinguishing mark of great performers, particularly the great shadow-puppet masters or dalang. This piece is in three large sections, which in turn emphasize one of these forces. The first movement, Idep, builds on an exoskeletal formal architecture; the second, Bayu, is propelled by rhythmic motion; the third, Sabda, simply sings. I wrote the piece in the wake of the death of my teacher, the great gender wayang master Wayan Loceng, with whom I studied in the late 1980s. An unrelentingly demanding teacher, Pak Wayan's musical virtuosity was matched by his knowledge of the wayang (shadow play) itself, and it was said that he had had a hand in the training of all the great dalang of Sukawati Village, the center of puppetry in Bali, where he lived his entire life. A dalang is a revered, quasi-religious figure in Bali; his musicians 'follow' him for a fraction of his wages and little or no personal recognition. Pak Wayan thus spent much of his performing career in the shadow of his own students, but more importantly in the service of an ancient art-form that was far more important to him than renown or wealth. I began this piece around the same time I learned of his death, and I felt his presence continually, not in a literal sense but in a compulsion to compose a work that would reflect his human and artistic values.

Most of the Balinese instruments in this piece were custom-made for this project and are non-traditional in tuning and design. Traditional Balinese instruments are tuned in distinctive, non-tempered scales which only match western tuning by coincidence. I have written for these wonderfully unwieldy bi-cultural combinations for many years, but in this piece I wanted something else: a tuning that would allow for the possibility of harmonization and consonance with western instruments while still having a distinctive, non-tempered character. The tuning I designed is an attempt to 'square the circle' - combining the basic structure of the Balinese slendro scale with principles of just intonation, that is, simple intervallic ratios, and centering the tones on a more-or-less precisely tuned 'A'. (I say more-or-less because the end result was slightly different than that which I had specified, but it sounded so good that we retained it!). Thus the melodies and harmonies constantly move in and out of the realm of the recognizable over the course of the piece. The instruments were built by Pande Made Sukerta of Blahbatuh. The project as a whole is the brainchild of Karl Middleman, who called me out of the blue and bravely went along with the whole scheme.

Bayu Sabda Idep is commissioned by the New Philadelphia Classical Symphony - Karl Middleman, Artistic Director - as part of its 'Gateways to Global Music' series, and is made possible through the generous support of the Philadelphia Music Project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and administered by the University of the Arts. Premier performances are April 20 and 21, 2007 at the Trinity Life Center and Westtown School, respectively.
Big Grenadilla (2006) 15'
orchestra and solo bass clarinet



Big Grenadilla was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, with myself as soloist. The concerto is traditionally a heroic form, which doesn’t jibe well with an egalitarian approach to music. But given the chance to be at stage front amid New York’s finest musicians, it would be foolish to squander the occasion. “Big Grenadilla” is my second bass clarinet/large ensemble work: five years ago, I composed and performed “Drill,” for bass clarinet and wind ensemble, casting myself in the role of drill sergeant, leading the troops through a vigorous basic training. But in this work, among colleagues, the soloist and conductor are first among equals, leading a boisterous band, er, orchestra.

Bass clarinet is the instrument I know best, thrust into my hands in high school, and never far from me since. Musicians and their instruments, in hand and mouth, mind and body: metaphors come quickly. It’s a life partner, and I write for it as I would write for another musician, ideally using my music to reveal the instrument’s own physical and spiritual character. Of course this is ventriliqual, the story I tell myself. In practical terms, the vocabulary of the music is contoured to the acoustic characteristics of the horn, rather than the other way around.

Grenadilla is a dense, strong dark wood that is often mistaken for ebony. It continues to grow in abundance on the African steppe. It is the primary wood for many instruments, including the bass clarinet, whose bottom joint alone is a single piece 30 inches in length. Big grenadilla, yearning for its living, rooted reality, with the orchestra providing the dreamscape.

Big Grenadilla was premiered in Carnegie's Zankel Hall. 60 years earlier, in that same building, Woody Herman premiered Stravinsky’s pocket-sized “Ebony Concerto”. Title aside, I claim no conscious connection to this masterpiece, but simply bow my head in homage. It is the Kilimanjaro of my own African landscape. We steppe-dwellers continue to gaze up in awe.
War Chant (2004) 15'
orchestra with Hawaian-style lap-steel guitar
commissioned by Boston Modern Orchestra Project



Instrumentation
3 Flutes (one doubling Piccolo, one doubling Alto Flute)
2 Oboes
2 B-flat Clarinets
2 Bassoons
4 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in C
2 Tenor Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
Percussion 1: Timpani, 4 temple blocks, Sleigh bells, Chinese flat cymbal, Tambourine, Snare drum
Percussion 2: Sleigh bells, Guiro, 2 Bongos, Cowbell, Triangle, Snare drum, Bass drum, Glockenspiel
Percussion 3: Sleigh bells, Suspended Cymbal, Guiro, Tamtam, Crotales, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Log Drum
Piano
Harp
Hawaiian Steel Guitar (w/slide)
Strings: minimum 8-8-6-6-3

Program notes by the composer We live in an age of war; sadly, we all know this now. The airport is the new battlefield and the jumbo jet the weapon of choice, so we are told, and so we believe. But this is really nothing new: the fear of death has always been a traveling companion. The screams of the machinery soothe us, and nothing is more terrifying than the wrong type of metallic scrape, knock, or, worst of all, silence. Recently, the US Airways shuttle from Logan to LaGuardia began force-feeding its passengers the Fox News Network, and it seemed clear to me that this was the perfect battle music for the new frontline.

I recorded a recent shuttle trip, a symphony of mechanical accelerations, punctuated by the gentle beeps of the seatbelt sign and the reassurances and warnings of the flight attendant. The engine’s primal howl is subsumed by soothing corporate lyricism, and we probably wouldn’t be able to have it any other way. As will be apparent, the structure of War Chant is based on this necessary dialectic. As for the content, it concerns a similar musical opposition. On the one hand there is Xenakis, who speaks only the raw truth; on the other Juan Garcia Esquivel, master of pleasure and fantasy. I had a crazy dream of trying to write music that somehow paid homage to both, without compromise or irony. This is my attempt at that reconciliation.

War Chant was commissioned by the Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Foundation.
Ngaben (for Sari Club) (2003) 15'
orchestra with gamelan
commissioned by the New England Conservatory; world premiere Jordan Hall, Boston, March 12, 2003 by Gamelan Galak Tika and the NEC Symphony, Dante Anzolini, conductor



A terrorist bomb destroyed the Sari Club in Kuta Beach, Bali on October 12, 2002. I had just begun working on a very different type of piece for gamelan and orchestra, but the printed images of Balinese women crying and praying at the blast site overwhelmed me and changed the direction of the music.

The ngaben cremation is the last and most important life ritual in Balinese Hinduism. Like a traditional New Orleans funeral, it encompasses a wide range of emotions. The entire village participates, preparations are extensive, and the overall mood is decidedly unmournful. The loss is acknowledged, but it is subsumed by the far more important task of releasing the soul from the body. The procession itself is serious but chaotic and circuitous: the raised, highly ornamented sarcophagus must be spun around violently at all intersections in order to confuse evil spirits. The burning itself, where the soul ascends to await its next incarnation, follows this.

This Ngaben follows the same course, in ways that will be readily apparent. The two sections are fused together by a central kebyar, the highly charged, ametric-but-synchronous tutti which characterizes modern Balinese music.

Ironically, the term kebyar means ‘explosion,’ though it is normally described as a flower bursting into bloom, or a flash of lightning in the sky. Historically, kebyar arose in response to the violent takeover of Bali by the Dutch at the dawn of the 20th century; that tragedy thus sparked a renaissance of art and cross-cultural exchange on the island which has lasted until this day. This piece, a response to the violence which starts this century, is a small offering in the hope that the east-west exchange will continue undaunted.
Frog's Eye (2002) 13'
chamber orchestra
commissioned and premiered by Boston Pro Arte Orchestra, Isiaiah Jackson,conductor, October 2002

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets in b-flat, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns in F, 2 trumpets in b-flat, 2 percussionists, claves, 2 temple blocks, bass drum, low tom, triangle, ‘chinese-type’ suspended cymbal, 2 bongos, strings (4-4-2-2-2)

LISTEN:

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Program Notes by the composer

“I’m quite convinced in some ways that the camera has given us a somewhat blinkered look. We’re looking at the world through a hole - we’re getting a bit of tunnel vision. And so I’m trying to widen it, trying to put in more than just looking ahead. And when you do, the viewer is pulled in more. So I get quite excited by that. I spent rather a long time experimenting with optics, and actually now my intention is to throw them away and use my two eyes and what I think of the world and look at it, look at the real world. I don’t watch television much, I look at the garden, that’s the real world I think, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
-David Hockney on NPR’s Weekend Edition, December 9, 2001

As a relative newcomer to New England (a mere 12 years), I still allow myself the luxury of being overwhelmed by local nature, specifically summer’s rampant fecundity. Swimming across lakes and ponds, the view is as with a camera obscura, one’s small humanity dwarfed by water and sky, ringed by innumerable trees and leaves. It’s hard to feel important at such moments, but also impossible not to feel wondrously alive. As it turns out, this is close to the frog’s-eye view: perched on rocks in shallow water, 99 percent immersed, only their huge panoptic eyes above the water line. Perfect stillness, perfect contemplation, patience, serenity, all that good Zen stuff. Keeping cool while maintaining absolute vigilance. They are in fact hard at work, staring intently, waiting for a moment of action and violence, for insects, for food. The view is incidental as far as they’re concerned.

Meanwhile, back among the humans, we live our directed lives, cutting across the sensory present, intersecting with it, ignoring it, misapprehending, misinterpreting. This is undoubtedly our own biological necessity. We strive for a certain type of awareness, for multilayered perception, and occasionally we get there, but we seem to be built for subjective narrative. We’ve got to catch the fly to survive. I personally don’t have a problem with this, but – like Mr. Hockney – I’m trying to look at my surroundings while still advancing the story line.

Frog’s Eye was commissioned by Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston.
Filling Station (1986) 12'
orchestra premiered by UC Berkeley Symphony, EZ conductor, October 1986
Pleasureville, Pain City (1985) 6'
premiered by UC Berkeley Symphony, John Sackett, conductor, February 1985

Works for Wind Ensemble

The Ornate Zither and the Nomad Flute (2005) 15'
for solo soprano and wind ensemble


premiered March 2005 by Anne Harley with MIT Wind Ensemble, Fred Harris, director
Commissioned by Richard Nordlof.

To poems by Li Shangyin and W.S. Merwin

Instrumentation: Soprano voice, Piccolo, Flute, Flute/Alto Flute, 2 Oboes, 2 B-flat Clarinets, 2 B-flat Bass Clarinets 2 Bassoons, 2 B-flat Soprano Saxophones 2 F Horns, 2 B-flat Trumpets, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba, Percussion Battery (4 players): Crotales (bowed and struck), Vibraphone (bowed and struck), 2 cymbals, high hat, maracas, sleigh bells, cowbell, Electric Piano (amplified) Double Bass (amplified)

Performance notes:
Set-up: Instruments are to be arrayed from left to right in the following order. This can be modified to conform with stage size, but left right assignments should be retained:
1st row: Oboes (L), Flutes (C), Clarinets (R)
2nd row: Sax1 (L), Bass Clarinets (L), Bassoons (R), Sax 2 (R)
3rd row: Trpt 1 (L), Trbs (L), Horns (C), Euphonium/Tuba (R), Trpt 2 (R) 4th row: Percussion L, Piano/Bass (C), Percussion R

Voice: Both texts alternate, and are to be sung in their original language, i.e., the Li in Mandarin, the Merwin in English. A somewhat literal word-by-word translation is provided underneath the pinyin for the convenience of the performer. Dynamics are at the discretion of the vocalist, though it is understood that the vocal part should always be prominent. If possible, no amplification should be used for the voice.

The Ornate Zither and the Nomad Flute was commissioned for the MIT Wind Ensemble, Fred Harris, director, by Richard Nordlof, MIT Class of 1955, in loving memory of his wife Jody. It was premiered by soprano Anne Harley and MITWE at Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, MA, on March 11 2005.

The Nomad Flute
By W.S. Merwin (b. 1927)

You that sang to me once sing to me now let me hear your long lifted note
survive with me
the star is fading

I can think farther than that but I forget do you hear me

do you still hear me does your air
remember you
oh breath of morning night song morning song I have with me

all that I do not know I have lost none of it

but I know better now
than to ask you
where you learned that music where any of it came from once there were lions in China
I will listen until the flute stops and the light is old again
-WS Merwin

The Nomad Flute was originally published in the New Yorker magazine, November 22, 2004. It is used with kind permission of the magazine and the author.
Drill (2002) 10'
concerto for solo bass clarinet with wind ensemble


premiered by EZ and MIT WindEnsemble, Fred Harris, director

The concerto form springs from romanticism: its default metaphor is that of the heroic individual, emerging from and exalted by his fellow man. This is not really my thing, but I do have a strong desire to make music with my wind brethren, to do things on our instruments together. Having taught for over a decade, I am also conscious of the complex ways in which teachers and students relate, and this piece reflects this, at least in my mind. In war movies and sitcoms, it's always struck me that the drill sergeant works at least as hard as the recruits, running alongside, exhorting and cajoling to be sure, but never really asking them to do things he himself couldn't or wouldn't do. Not that that necessarily has anything to do with the title of this piece, I just thought I'd mention it. Drill is the first of a projected three-movement work, written for Fred Harris and the MIT Wind Ensemble.

commissioned by the MIT Wind Ensemble, Fred Harris, director
Tsmindao Ghmerto (1995) 7'
solo bass clarinet and wind ensemble
commissioned and premiered by Nederlands Blazers, New Years Day 1996

Tsmindao Ghmerto is based on a hymn of the same name from the liturgy of the Georgian Orthodox Church, as recorded by the Rustavi Choir for the Nonesuch label. The resemblance is so strong that I originally billed it as an arrangement, until several people took issue with this, in public and private. The bass clarinetist is required to hum into the instrument almost continuously throughout the piece. The ‘vocal’ line is indicated on a separate staff but is to be done by the same player, much like the left hand in a piano part. It is transposed to B-flat so that the player can more easily conceptualize the intervallic relationships between the two parts There are undoubtedly various ways to produce tones while humming, but in all cases the effect should be as graceful as possible, that is, it shouldn’t seem like a struggle. Other sound artifacts that may emerge while singing and playing are desirable.
Houtman's Men in Buleleng (1996) 15'
for Orkest de Volharding, premiered at Ijsbreker, Amsterdam

Works for Standard Chamber Ensembles

By The Numbers (for Lou Harrison) (2019) 17'
clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, and re-tuned piano


Two movements for clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, and re-tuned piano. Written for Lou Harrison's centenary, it can only be performed on a piano tuned to both of Harrison's just-intonation SI Betty scales.
String Quartet #4: Qi (2014) 22'
string quartet
commissioned and premiered by Brooklyn Rider


Project for a Revolution in New York (2013) 26’ with accompanying films
flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello
commissioned and premiered by Santieri Salveggi
Where Was I? (2008) 25'
cello, piano, percussion
Hive (2007) 17'
clarinet quartet - 2 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets



Speak, At-man! (2006) 10'
alto flute and piano
String Quartet #3: Breathing Space (2003) 20'
three movements for string quartet
commissioned and premiered by Ethel, Miller Theater, New York, April 2003
Typical Music (2000) 30'
three movements for piano trio


commissioned by Readers Digest/Meet the Composer and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts for the Arden Trio, premiered Ketchum, ID, January 2001
Melody Competition (1999, rev. 2000) 21'
for percussion sextet


commissioned and premiered by red fishblue fish, Steven Schick, director; UCSD, La Jolla, CA, May 1999
Dreams of a Dominant Culture (1997) 20'
for flute, clarinet, percussion, electric piano, violin, cello
commissioned and premiered by Boston Musica Viva, Richard Pittman, conductor; Longy School, Cambridge, October 1997
Eel Bone (1996) 13'
string quartet
commissioned and premiered by Kronos Quartet, San Francisco, May 1996
Kebyar Maya (1995) 14'
cello octet


commissioned by Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program for Maya Beiser
Be-In (1991) 11'
multiple versions available: string quartet and bass clarinet/bassoon/double bass
clarinet, mandolin, cello, electric piano, double bass, hand percussion
Bossa Nova for brass quintet (1991) 3'
commissioned by MIT for the inauguration of President Charles Vest
Dog Dream (1990) 12'
flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, cello, electric guitar
commissioned and premiered by California EAR Unit, LA County Museum
Ten String Quartets (1979) 10'

Works for Non-standard Chamber Ensembles

FAQs (2014) 16’30”
piano, tenor
for Timur Bekbosunov
Two Scenes from Shadow Bang (2013) 11'
piano, cello
Honey from Alast (2013) 11’30”
viola, frame drum, vibraphone


commissioned by Duo Jalal
Three Nyatitis (2013) 15'
banjo, clarinet, viola
commissioned by Roger Michel
Kebyar Blues (2013) 5'
clarinet, guitar, voice/violin


for Eviyan: Evan Ziporyn, Iva Bittova, Gyan Riley
Odd Meeting (2013) 5'
clarinet, guitar, voice/violin


for Eviyan: Evan Ziporyn, Iva Bittova, Gyan Riley
Paper Cone (2013) 5'
clarinet, guitar, voice/violin


for Eviyan: Evan Ziporyn, Iva Bittova, Gyan Riley
Pygmyesque (2013) 5'
clarinet, guitar, voice/violin


for Eviyan: Evan Ziporyn, Iva Bittova, Gyan Riley
Sun Shower (2013) 5'
clarinet, guitar, voice/violin


for Eviyan: Evan Ziporyn, Iva Bittova, Gyan Riley
Sulvasutra (2006) 18'
string quartet, pipa, and tabla
commissioned by the Silk Road Project


Belle Labs (2006) 20'
violin, clarinet, and robotic xylophone (Heliphon)
commissioned by Ensemble Robot and Boston Museum of Science, premiered January 25, 2005 by Evan Ziporyn and Todd Reynolds
Thread (2005) 25'
clarinet, alto and bass flute, violin, cello
commissioned and premiered by Dinosaur Annex, Cambridge, MA June 2005
No Return (2002) 30'
4 movements for violin, clarinet, and sounds of the Salmon River
commissioned by Sun Valley Center for the Arts and premiered by Todd Reynolds and Evan Ziporyn, Ketchum, ID, January 2003
More Songs About Telephones and Dogs (2002) 20'
4 movements for mixed ensemble - 'Iris in Furs' 'Jubilee of Indifference' '...no messages...' 'Dog Heaven'
commissioned by The Kitchen for Kitchen House Blend, premiered December 2002
Tight Fitting Garments 15'
violin and clarinet: "It Is And It Isn't," "Illusions of Purity," "Jubilee of Indifference"
Serenity Now (1998) 5'
commissioned by Chamber Music Conference of the East, Bennington, VT
Pay Phone (1993)
violin, viola, electric guitar, bass clarinet, keyboard
for the Michael Gordon Philharmonic
Esto House (1993) 10'
violin, viola, electric guitar, bass clarinet, keyboard
for the Michael Gordon Philharmonic
Tree Frog (1990) 25'
bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, trombone, percussion, keyboard, violin; commissioned by Toronto Border Crossings Festival for Sound Pressure, premiered at the Music Gallery, Toronto, May 1990


Twine (1985) 12'
three movements for soprano, two saxophones, bass clarinet, violin, viola, percussion
LUVTime (1984) 15'
three movements for bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, trombone, percussion, piano

Works for Solo Piano

Don’t Want to Wait (2017) 8'
solo piano
LISTEN:
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commissioned by Joel Fan, co-composed with Christine Southworth

You Are Getting Sleepy (2015) 14'
solo piano
LISTEN:
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commissioned by Sarah Cahill for Terry Riley's 80th Birthday

In Bounds (2004)
solo piano
LISTEN:
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Pondok (2000) 21'
solo piano
LISTEN:
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four movements - 'Fragrant Forest' (4:30), 'Tree Trunk' (3:45), 'Ginoman' (2:00), 'Gebyog (Husk)' (10:00)
commissioned and premiered by Sarah Cahill

Fractal-Head (1987) 15'
solo piano
Some Coal (1985) ten movements 30'
solo piano
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The Water's Fine (1983) 30'
solo piano
premiered by Michael Orland
Weltscenen (1981) 20'
solo piano
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premiered by Christopher Oldfather

Works for Other Solo Instruments

Shiki Soko (2017) 7’15"
solo koto with voice
VIEW SCORE EXCERPT:



commissioned by Alex Rigopulos and Sachi Sato, for Sumie Kaneko
Headband (2016) 5'
drum kit
Tunggal (2016) 10'
vibraphone
VIEW SCORE EXCERPT:



Old Growth (2015) 10'
cello with electronics and accompanying films by Christine Southworth
Come with Me If You Want to Live (2014) 10'30"
percussion and electronics, for Glenn Kotche
Atlas (2013) 5'25"
clarinet, sarod, voice, kathak dancer
Hval (2007)
solo bass
commissioned by Robert Black
Current Rate (1999) 15'
solo Chinese pipa and pre-recorded CD (or two pipa)
commissioned and premiered by Wu Man at Bang on a Can Women and Music, Henry Street Settlement
Kebyar Maya (1995) 14'
solo cello and prerecorded CD
commissioned by Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program for Maya Beiser
Studies in Normative Behaviour, Vol 1 (1991) 10'
solo percussionist
commissioned and premiered by Daniel J. Tunick
The Motions (1990) 9'
solo viola (or viola and CD)
premiered by John Lad
China Spring (1991) 15'
for oboe and piano
commissioned and premiered by Peter Cooper and Evan Ziporyn

Arrangements

Blackstar Concerto after David Bowie: "Blackstar" (2017) 45'
for full orchestra with Maya Beiser, solo cello
LISTEN:
David Bowie: "Let's Dance" (2016)
for full orchestra
Uncovered (2014) album for Maya Beiser
Maya Beiser, solo cello
LISTEN:

Led Zeppelin: "Black Dog"
Chester Burnett: "Moanin' at Midnight"
Jimi Hendrix: "Little Wing"
Janis Joplin: "Summertime"
King Crimson: "Epitaph"
Pink Floyd: "Wish You Were Here"
Muddy Waters: "Louisiana Blues"
Kurt Cobain: "Lithium"
AC/DC: "Back in Black"
Led Zeppelin: "Kashmir"
B-52s: "Dead Beat Club" for solo piano (2008)
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Conlon Nancarrow: Four Studies (2a, 3a, 3c, 11) (2002) 17'
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion

LISTEN:

premiered at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, October 2002

Conlon Nancarrow ideas - politically and musically - put him at odds with American conventional wisdom; in both cases, he chose isolation rather than compromising his principles. In self-imposed exile in Mexico City, he corresponded with Elliott Carter and mail-ordered a Harry Partch LP. (Sales were so scarce that Partch himself came for a visit, during with Nancarrow neglected to reveal that he was a composer himself!) For decades, Nancarrow composed only for player pianos, working alone and by hand, spending months punching holes in rolls to produce 40-plus compact, revolutionary Studies, which collectively have redefined our notions of time and meter in music.

Nancarrow's place in the pantheon is now ensured: Ligeti has acknowledged him as an influence (the Piano Concerto and Etudes are unthinkable without Nancarrow), Arditti commissioned a piece, various groups perform faithful and elegant transcriptions. But even Nancarrow's most ardent acolytes often apologize for or ignore key aspects of his music: the simplicity of the melodies, the harshness of the player piano sound, and the fact that the source of his ideas is American popular music. Nancarrow heard something in boogie woogie, in swing, in the blues: not just the implicit polyrhythms of all African American music but the possibility of simultaneous rhythmic identities coexisting in a single piece. Not just cross-rhythms, but Lester Young floating over the bar line. Like Stravinsky, like Bartok, like Andriessen, Nancarrow abstracted these ideas structurally and retained their source on the surface; and as in all these cases, both the abstract ideas and their connection to their popular roots are necessary.

These arrangements, made specifically for this performance, are attempts to retain the visceral intensity of the music, to retain the juxtaposition of a happy, human lyricism with a machine-made, maniacal energy. The idea of extreme abutment, of pushing familiar elements to unexpected but inevitable extremes, is something I hear in and love about Louis' music. In my reworkings I have tried to keep this essence in mind above all else. No doubt, these are not the arrangements Louis would have made, but they are made with him in mind, a stance taken, sent as correspondance, as argument, as homage.

Kurt Cobain: "Lithium" (1995)
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Brian Eno: "Music for Airports 2/2"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Brian Eno: "Burning Airlines Gives You So Much More"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Brian Eno: "Everything Merges Into Night"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Hermeto Pascoal: "Arapua"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Hermeto Pascoal: "Ilha das Gavotas"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Hermeto Pascoal: "Quiabo"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion
Robert Schumann: "Canon"
clarinet, cello, doublebass, e-guitar, piano/keyboard, percussion