Peep my new album, Infrared Leviathan

Hey hey!  I’m happy to announce that my newest album, Infrared Leviathan, is now available for pay-what-you-can download.  This album draws on my passions for noise music, improvisation, and the principles of Baroque counterpoint.  Guided by Edgard Varèse’s philosophy of music as simply organized sounds, Infared Leviathan is a manic spin through palm-sized synthesizers, Goodwill cast-off cassettes, and blasts of FM radio static, all organized and edited using Golden Ratio mathemagics.  If the idea of a found-sound Merzbow excites you, you’ll dig this album.

I’m hoping to make some videos that explain my process in the future – until then, please listen and enjoy.  (And if you enjoy it, tell a friend!)

Video score: Dennis Bathory-Kitsz’s “Underside”

We played a still from this video as a graphic score at our Composer’s Voice: Fifteen Minutes of Fame performance. The composer, Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, found our performance and added it as the soundtrack to his original video score. Cool!

(The most compelling part of the instructions were “slow counterpoint,” which we tried to capture and express here…)

“How do You Play a Picture?” Graphic Scores and Seis Six

I was recently able to debut an unusual piece of my own under unusual, and very interesting, circumstances.

There’s a music series in NYC called Composer’s Voice, a subset of which is their (very cool) Fifteen Minutes of Fame series. The 15 Minutes of Fame collects fifteen one-minute miniature pieces for an ensemble (or theme). Our was a collection of fifteen graphic scores, dedicated to Rob Voisey.

I and three of my favorite musicians (Brendon Randall-Myers, Bill Beckett, and my former teacher Istvan Peter B’Racz) were able to select the fifteen pieces and perform them in NYC.

Graphic Score Heart-throbs

And here’s my piece we played: Seis Six

Seis Six

After the performance, an audience member asked one of our merry band, “So…how do you play a picture?” Well, there’s no one way, but WE approached the process of “playing a picture” as composer-performers: we picked visual aspects of the score and translated them into musical parameters. So for this performance,

  • The long red triangle in the first bracket was a sound with a long decay that carried over into the next bracket (big piano chord with long sustain)
  • The dotted lines in the fifth bracket (middle bottom) were a brief scritchy-scratchy guitar interlude
  • The fourth, almost-all red, bracket (bottom left) was “filled up” the source of the long decay in the first bracket (in this case, piano)
  • The very last item in the score, a descending arrow was (of course!) a concluding downward glissando

Or, to be more precise….

To me, one of the awesome things about graphic scores is that the score a different group or different performance could generate completely different music by interpreting the score differently.

For example, we interpreted the long red triangle in the first bracket was a sound with a long decay that carried over into the next bracket (big piano chord with long sustain); another group could have interpreted that long red triangle to be decreasing volume BUT very active playing (since perhaps red signifies “intensity”) – so the piece COULD also start with a very active melodic line that decreases in volume as the performers move from the first bracket to the second.

The hypothetical group could play the two triangles in the first bracket as two different audio samples overlaid on top of the melodic line – or, perhaps the same sample processed two different ways (since they’re the same shape–triangles–but two different colors).

And, to me, that’s the beauty of graphic scores – we have a “fixed” score that allows a lot of creative decisions from performers (perhaps DEMANDS a lot of creative input from performers?). Two groups could present two very different interpretations, but they would actually be changing certain parameters in the same *way* – even if, to a listener, the pieces sound nothing alike.

I’m currently hoping to organize an internet noise-music compilation around this concept…stay tuned! (Or drop me a line if you’re interested!)

Track out on ‽

I’m very pleased to share this fun project – I and a bunch of other noises musicians each contributed 10 samples to a common pool, then we all drew on this shared pool to create a series of 1-minute tracks.

I love listening to it and hearing different sounds repeat across tracks.  It’s like a suite (as long as I turn off shuffle play, that is).

Nice range of styles too, from manic cut-up to dark ambient.

For aesthetic reasons we aren’t saying whose track is whose, but I will say my track is one of the even-numbered ones…between numbers three and five…and rhymes with “zore.”

Hear My “Tape” Piece on the Collected Aural Detriments Compilation

So Reddit can be a huge time-sink (especially if you’re an internet/information addict like I am), but occasionally great things come from it – one enterprising musician took the initiative to start a “noise music” collective, and we have just released our first compilation, “Collected Aural Detriments, Vols 1-3.”

My Cage-inspired tape piece “Fire Engine Dragon” is included:

This was a fun piece to make – it started as an exercise, but then I went back to revise it, and now it seems to stand on its own.

There’s some cool stuff on here, and the collective is now working on a super-awesome project involving different people working with a shared pool of sound clips, which I’m really excited about…more info soon, stay tuned!

Hear me Hammonding on Mouth 4 Rusty’s new album

Check out my sweet Hammond chops on Mouth 4 Rusty’s new album, “What’s Going Somewhere?”


I’m on track 6, “Animals,” but I’m not going to direct link because I strongly encourage you to enjoy the whole album (or enjoy at least a few songs off of it, I know we’re all pretty busy these days…)

And if you like what you hear, do  get the whole album – I really love Mouth 4 Rusty’s music.  His stripped down-arrangements really let his talent as a lyricist and songwriter shine through.  And he’s a heck of a guy, too.

Mouth 4 Rusty!

Kevin Smith’s Trick for Being Whatever You Want to Be

“There’s a trick to being whatever you want to be in life. It starts with the simple belief that you are what or who you say you are. It starts, like all faiths, with a belief–a belief predicated more on whimsy than reality. And you’ve gotta believe for everybody else, too–until you can show them proof. If you’re lucky, someone starts believing with you–first theoretically, then in practice. And two people believing are the start of a congregation. You build a congregation of believers and eventually set out to craft a cathedral. Sometimes it’s just a church; sometimes it turns out to be a chapel. Folks who don’t build churches will try to tell you how you’re doing it wrong, even as your steeple breaks the clouds. Never listen.”

– Kevin Smith

Contemporary Music for All


Do you ever come across something so cool that you get a flutter in your stomach and you think “Could this actually be a thing that people are DOING?!”

I got a sensation like that when I ran across England’s “Contemporary Music for All” organization.  This is a group dedicated to running “amateur contemporary music ensembles” – right now in the UK, Ireland and Holland, but hopefully worldwide.

What a fabulous idea for so many reasons:

  1. It takes the “edge” off contemporary classical music by getting people to actually play it – in concerts attended by their friends and loved ones.
  2. It gets people playing their instruments (again).  I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who say “Oh, you’re a music teacher?  I used to play [insert random instrument] and I loved it.  I wish I still played. [sad trombone music]” (this is especially ironic if their primary instrument was the sad trombone)
  3. IT GETS PEOPLE MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER AGAIN.  I may have subjected you to my rant about this (and none have heard it so often as my wonderful, long-suffering wife), but we’re in a freaky weird historical blip in which 99% of us consume music in solitude rather than making it together communally.  Personally, I think this is sick and wrong.  CoMA seems to be rectifying this and bringing people in the right direction.

Check out their webpage at  Also of interest is their collection of scores and their guidelines for writing new scores for a flexible ensemble of amateurs.

Of course, it’s similar to our own New Haven Improvisers Collective, but with an emphasis on “classical” style performance instead of free improvisation.

Who’d be into something like this in New Haven?  Or in YOUR town?!

Cornelius Cardew’s Virtues for a Musician

Found this on the old blog, thought it would be worth sharing again.

As per Cornelius Cardew, here are essential qualities for a musician to develop – especially an improvising musician, especially a musician who improves “freely:”

  1. Simplicity – Where everything becomes simple is the most desirable place to be.
  2. Integrity – What we do in the actual event is important -not only what we have in mind.
  3. Selflessnesss – To do something constructive you have to look beyond yourself.
  4. Forbearance – Improvising in a group you have to accept not only the frailties of your fellow musicians, but also your own.
  5. Preparedness – for no matter what eventuality (Cage’s phrase) or simply Awakeness.
  6. Identification with Nature – … like a yachtsman to utilize the interplay of natural forces and currents to steer a course.
  7. Acceptance of Death – From a certain point of view improvisation is the highest mode of musical activity, for it is based on the acceptance of music’s fatal weakness and essential and most beautiful characteristic -its transience.