I had the great privilege of working with film composer, Hanan Townshend on Terrence Malick's IMAX/feature film, Voyage of Time. Since much of the score was to be classical pieces by Haydn, Beethoven, Poulenc, Mahler, and others, I was tasked with re orchestrating those works to be compatible with the forces of the recording ensemble, the German Film Orchestra Bablesburg. Additionally, I orchestrated the original music by Hanan Townshend and prepared the scores and parts for each of those cues. It was an amazing experience to see it all come together on the big screen at the Bullock IMAX theatre here in Austin.
I recently worked with Lucas Wade, an Industrial Designer at M3 Design, the largest product development consultancy in Texas, on an original score for their promotional video.
I was thinking of digital yet organic, energetic yet precise. So, to give that digital yet organic sound, the instrumentation is almost entirely acoustic orchestral instruments, which have been treated by delay or distortion; using familiar materials in unfamiliar and new ways. To bring the energy and precision, I feature polyrhythms (2 beats against 3 beats and 4 against 3) and a brisk tempo, resulting in a quite metric and rigid, yet continuous stream of sounds. As a couple bonus easter eggs, the main melodic motive heard in the piano is a Major Third, which is abbreviated M3 in music theory. Also, the meter is 3 beats per measure…3/M…Nerdy!!
Many thanks to Dr. Jorge Muñiz and the players of Ensemble Concept/21 for their great performance of my piece, Ex unum. It was featured in a concert on April 7th, 2017 as a celebration of Indiana and IU. I was honored to be included in that celebration.
Ex unum's premiere performance was at the Atlantic Music Festival 2013, in Waterville, Maine.
In the early months of the year 2013, as is expected during “cold season” in the midwest, I became ill. Instead of resting my cold away, I was at the piano improvising on a motive that was simply three notes, an inversion of a minor triad, that in and of itself is of little significance. However, that basic melodic gesture resonated with me. I jotted the motive down, with full expectation that I would eventually come back to it. When presented with a small chamber ensemble to compose for, I thought the intimacy of such a simple gesture would be greatly suited for such an instrumentation.
As I progress in my compositional journey, I am in pursuit of the raw elements of my voice. Clarity and simplicity are such elements and this small motive embodied that. I chose the title Ex unum (translated, “From one”) because at the center of this piece is one simple motive. In my life and in my work, I desire to be a man of oneness; of integrity. I strive for the core of my being to be evident and consistent, not a man of duplicity, but of singular focus and drive. Regardless of this desire, I have my moments of complacency and lack of focus. However, it is at our physically vulnerable and weak moments that we also discover our emotional and psychological weaknesses, out of which comes a moment to re-examine ourselves. This music is a depiction of my own self-reflection. May it serve as an encouragement to those who, in spite of weakness and shortcoming, are pursuing integrity as their primary and singular focus.
This performance was recorded at Indiana University South Bend at the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts and is being used with the permission of IU South Bend.
Thematic transformation is a fascination of mine. I suppose it is in the simple elegance and efficiency of taking a kernel of an idea, and expanding it into an entire piece. It is a reflection of our own experience; we grow and change and evolve, yet there is an identifying aspect that lingers. The Ascent features such a transformation. The main theme rises from dark brasses in the low register, into bright strings in the aether; lending itself to the notion that perhaps the sonic medium can paint just as vivid a picture as the visual.
In a collaboration with Simplebulldog Studio, a non-profit film studio in Austin, I resonated well with a descriptor that was used in talking about the project: nostalgia. The promo is a depiction of one's reflection of a rewarding past experience. Upon seeing the rough cut, I immediately understood exactly the soundscape that would augment that sentiment.
It was great to work with my friends, Lauren and Kolten Macher at Simplebulldog on this project.
What started as an experiment in sonic textures, became an illustration of a world that is vibrant and teeming with life which escapes the observation of most of us on dry land. Just as the space above provides wonder and mysteries, so does the space below.
As the gallery image suggests, the original piece behind this one was composed in 2007. Being one that enjoys reimagining other tunes, I thought I'd reimagine one of my own. The beginning moments of this piece feature the original music practically verbatim, though slightly obscured through delay and other effects. Then, the piece drastically changes character through use of the sounds and techniques I have developed since that original composition.
Being that I am an avid Destiny player, I found that the score had some interesting themes that recurred throughout the game. When Bungie announced their Year One Fan Art Contest, I was compelled to participate. So, I was able to distill the six-note motive of the Guardian theme merely by listening to the score. I then used those six notes as the thematic material for a suite of three variations, each depicting a different facet of the Destiny experience that was especially important to me. All of the music you hear was composed, mixed, and mastered by myself. No sounds were taken from any part of the OST. By exploring thematic transformation, I was able to synthesize the essence of an existing sound-world and incorporate that into a new work that has a distinct character of its own while maintaining continuity to the world in which it exists.
A slight departure from my pursuit of the ethereal and grandiose, Bicycle Built for Two is a photograph, if you will, of two enjoying a sunny afternoon outdoors. Although composed in Austin, listening to this always reminds me of my time in Santa Barbara, California.