for piano (2005-2007), 11′

Performed at Indiana University, Oct. 2007.

Program notes:

Each movement of this piece uses musical processes and/or imagery I associate with machinery. “carillon” was composed originally for (you guessed it!) carillon, a machine designed to harness the forces of a vast collection of bells, ranging from very small to very large, and to place them under the control of a single performer. The end of this movement depicts the machinery slowing down and finally stopping.

“moving parts,” the most pianistic of the three movements, contrasts two opposing ideas, the first energetic and (dare I say?) mechanical, the second serene and lyrical. The lyrical idea, however, has a mechanical quality of its own. Not only is it accompanied by a constant buzz of sixteenth notes, but it consists of a canon, that most mechanical of musical devices, the pianist’s left hand echoing the right. Near the end, the two main ideas are superimposed. Finally, at the climactic point, the second idea takes on the character of the first, becoming energetic, jerky, and boisterous.

“clockwork,” initially conceived for harp, I like to describe as continuous variations on a single measure of music. My goal was to compose music that focuses the listener’s attention on the minute changes from one moment to the next and that keeps the listener always in suspense, so that the changes are never predictable. The piece is divided into several sections, each with its own diatonic set and modal configuration (what John Adams calls “gates”). Each section is slightly lower in register than the last. At the very end, the music ascends once more to the register in which it began.


i. carillon
ii. moving parts
iii. clockwork