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in words of one syllable

Having had a longstanding fascination both with children’s books and the flexibility of language, I was intrigued to learn about the “one syllable” series published in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Working with the theory that shorter words were more palatable to “young readers”, these books reworked whole texts, such as “Robinson Crusoe,” “The Swiss Family Robinson,” and “Alice in Wonderland,” altering the original language so that no word exceeded the length of one syllable. While perhaps easier to speak and read, this adaptation of the text leads to its own idiosyncrasies. These connections between rhythm, simplicity, and practice of a language invoke a playfulness and turns of phrases that invite their own complexity. in words of one syllable was commissioned by Jane Alden for the Vocal Constructivists. This recording is an excerpt from the premiere performance, which is available in its entirety here:…20request_redirect

of architecture and accumulation

“of architecture and accumulation” (for organ and wine glasses) explores gradually expanding sonorities as they fill the space both in terms of register and spatial distribution. Performers rubbing slightly detuned wine glasses distributed throughout the space gradually sustain tones introduced by the organ while creating interference patterns and an accumulation of tones. The piece was written for and premiered by composer/performer Wil Smith.

eden’s arch of promise bending, mvt. 2

“eden’s arch of promise bending” eavesdrops on the hidden infrastructures within the Old Croton Aqueduct. Completed in 1842, the Old Croton Aqueduct brought fresh water to a thirsty New York City, enabling its enormous growth. Closed in the middle of the twentieth century, elements of the Old Croton Aqueduct punctuate New York’s landscape, from its origin point in Westchester to its journey into the Manhattan through the Bronx. Drawing its title from the “Old Croton Ode”, written to celebrate the opening of the Aqueduct, “eden’s arch of promise bending” examines the vastness of such hidden infrastructures and how they persist by using a combination of field recordings and an exploration of the resonant frequencies of different parts of the Old Croton Aqueduct. Many thanks to the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, whose generous support of this project has made these recordings possible, and in particular to Mavis Cain, Robert Kornfeld. Many thanks as well to Nestor Prieto, whose assistance during recording was invaluable.


This musical excerpt comprises the first movement of the ballet “AEG” with choreography by Tiit Helimets and original text by Abi Basch, commissioned by the Estonian National Ballet. Each movement explores a different facet and possible perception of time passing. In this particular segment, percussive and noisier elements of speech are examined, and as the overall piece unfurls, so do additional elements of text, harmonic framework, and dance. AEG features piano samples by Kathleen Supové and Yvonne Troxler; voice recordings by Abi Basch, Tiit Helimets, Paula Matthusen, and Molly Shaiken; text by Abi Basch; commissioned by the Estonian National Ballet with choreography by Tiit Helimets. The piece was composed as part of a residency at Yaddo.

the end of an orange

“the end of an orange” (for violin and live-electronics) derives its title from an original text by Abi Basch and was written for and is dedicated to Todd Reynolds. The electronic processing explores many varied spatial and temporal realms of pitch and rhythm as the customized software samples pre-composed melodic fragments upon which the violinist improvises along with elements of spoken text. Drawing from the idea of deciding to remember, the violinist controls aspects of the performance to be recorded, while the fragments of remembered sonic material follow their own evolution. The piece was written as part of Van Lier Fellowship at Roulette Intermedium, and premiered under the title “if I am I or what actually occurred” on June 15, 2009. The piece has subsequently been released on the album Outerborough on Innova Records.

sparrows in supermarkets

In the supermarket down the street from me, a family of sparrows has taken up residence, having found a convenient location above the bakery aisle. I’m intrigued by such moments when the boundaries between different environmental and acoustical spaces are reconfigured. “sparrows in supermarkets” seeks not to convey literal birdsong, but rather to examine snippets of melodic repetition as they inhabit different, and at times surprising, spaces. The piece was commissioned by and is dedicated to Terri Hron, and is featured on the album, “Bird on a Wire II: Flocking Patterns.”


corpo/Cage was composed originally as part of the 2009 Mixed Emotions, a project coordinated between the orkest de ereprijs and ArtEZ Dansacademie, to involve live ensemble performance with dance. The music was developed in collaboration with choreographer Roberto Zappalà. The piece is dedicated to the orkest de ereprijs in recognition of their support of new music and young composers. Written for an extended instrumentation (with the ensemble doubling sheets of paper and music boxes), the piece explores moments of synchronization amongst the ensemble, and how these may correspond with large scale harmonic and timbral shifts.

in absentia

“in absentia” (for violin, piano, and miniature electronics) examines by way of sonic resonance ideas of memory, and how repetition of the facets of the remembered may eventually create its own patterns in absence of the thing remembered. This piece was commissioned by Daniella Strasfogel and Clemens Hund-Göschel. This live recording is from a performance by the Glass Farm Ensemble. The piece was later adapted for guitar and violin by James Moore and Andie Springer.

but because without this

“but because without this” began originally as a piece for blue-grass quartet, commissioned by the Diesel Lounge Boys as part of Operation Hoe-Dow. It has since morphed into its current, and definitive version, for Dither Electric Guitar Quartet. The piece is a timbral exploration as to how discrepancies in repetition emerge and, even when unanticipated, seem somehow necessary in retrospect. Music video by Stephen Taylor is available here:

Filling Vessels

Performed by Amanda Pepping, Jennifer Porto, Daniella Strasfogel, & Jeremy Woodruff Filling Vessels is a multi-channel sound and light installation/performance by Paula Matthusen (composition, processing, and programming) and Tom O’Doherty (photography and visuals, technical assistance, and documentation), dependent on interaction with audio feedback generated in an installation space itself. It functions as an audience-navigable space, in which people can explore the effect they have on the sonic and visual events that take place within it, and, as a performance environment, within which musicians use their instruments to interact with and influence the resultant combinations of sound and light. Visit the Filling Vessels website at

of minutiae and memory

For cello, voice, and electronics Performed by Jody Redhage Incidental memory has always fascinated me. The text for this piece is drawn from the Norwegian table prayer my grandmother grew up speaking. The piece draws on the prayer not to evoke any spiritual or religious overtones, but rather to reflect on how a single text remains both familiar and foreign through repetition, reinvention, remembering, and forgetting. The piece was commissioned by Jody Redhage and is featured on “All Summer in a Day” and “of minutiae and memory” [New Amsterdam Records]. on all these days, all this untellable time...

This piece is based on the short story Blow-Up by Julio Cortázar. The story follows the relationship between Roberto Michel, a translator and photographer, and a particular snapshot, as he explores issues of time, context, and the documentation of both. The piece does not so much trace the narrative of the story, but rather attempts to evoke the always (self)conscious, and reflexive style of writing.

...because it opens a path, because it does not close...

For 2 flutes, clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, french horn, two trombones, tuba, electric guitar, bass guitar, percussion, 2 sopranos, and piano Performed by Orkest de Ereprijs Written for Orkest de Ereprijs, and was the winner of the 2005 Young Composers’ Meeting, in Apeldoorn (Netherlands).


For flute doubling dulcimer with ebow, prepared-piano doubling zither with ebow, harp, and percussion Performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble Based on the short story by Julio Cortázar by the same title. The piece does not emulate the narrative but rather the subtle transition the main character makes as she encounters ambiguity in space and time, dream and obsession.