I perform, compose, improvise, engineer, and record music with a special focus on the nuances and inner details of sound and its expression in a physically immersive listening space.
When one listens attentively to details, it becomes readily apparent that most complex vibrating bodies be they gongs, strings, etc. do not produce a "note," but rather dozens or hundreds of perceivable events that unfold over time before the complex vibrating body comes to rest. In my music's sounds both those produced acoustically and electronically the complex nuances are used as critical artistic components. In my computer-integrated work, the computer is often used to emphasize the constituent parts within a single acoustically produced sound, as well as how the parts evolve, and mold them into new, compelling sound objects.
Our ability to localize sound (determine its spatial position and environment) is a powerful sensory function full of possibilities for artistic exploitation. Our auditory systems enable us to grasp the entire three-dimensional soundscape in which we are immersed at any point in time. This ability to listen simultaneously to sounds in all directions and distances contrasts greatly with our ocular system, which gives us only partial views of our surroundings. Not only can sound exist in space, but spaces themselves can provide us with sonic environments (for example, hear in your mind the vastly different behavior of sound inside of a cathedral versus a carpeted hallway). In my music, I take great care to craft not only kinetic audio spatial-forms, but also the acoustic environments in which they sound.
My main creative avenue is my music for marimba plus three-dimensional, high-definition, computer-generated sound. I designed my electronics system controllers, software, etc. as an extension of my aesthetic sensibilities, and it thus allows for an intensely personal approach to my works. Indeed, my works for this setup are intended for my performance alone, as soloist or ensemble member. In the multiple paths they can take, my pieces more closely resemble computer programs than through-composed compositions. My music for marimba plus computer constantly evolves as I create new musical material and new computer processes. I act as creator and live arbiter of the music in performance, navigating through flexible compositional frameworks which utilize a complex system interconnecting score generation and display, instrumental performance, and real-time audio manipulation.
As counterpoint to my proprietary electro-integrated works, my compositions for acoustic instruments have scores available for performance by other musicians. Although the music is produced acoustically, it shares the same aesthetic framework as my electronic music. To clearly and accurately represent my musical ideas in written form, I have devised a special notation system. At first glance, the system is distinguished by its use of multiple colors and an attention to visual detail which reflects the artistic sensibilities of the music.
My work as a marimbist also includes performances of acoustic and electro-integrated compositions written by other composers. This repertoire includes compositions from recent decades, including a growing number of compositions written specifically for me, as well as some centuries-old compositions.
In general, I strive to create musical events, as opposed to "pieces." In live performance, I assemble programs that are without intermission, with either a single, large-scale composition, or a set of works designed to create a unified event. My recordings are structured in the same way, as albums, with either a single, large-scale composition, or a collection of works that together have an artistic impact greater than the sum of the individual components. My music, both live and recorded, is often part of multi-media collaboration projects. Over the past few years, I have worked with dancers, sculptors, and video artists on performance and installation projects.
I perform on a Malletech Imperial Grand five-octave marimba, and use a custom, silent (true 0dB) computer created by endpcnoise.com.
I was born in 1978 in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to studying privately with marimbist Leigh Howard Stevens, I studied at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY), the Royal Academy of Music (London), and hold a doctoral degree in music composition from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. From 2011 to 2013 I was a postdoctoral associate at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. I currently live with my wife Lisa and son Lev in Swarthmore, PA.