Science Fiction Music

Beethoven bob­ble­heads, sneaky dances, and oth­er, def­i­nite­ly mean­ing­ful, disasters.

Beethoven bob­ble­heads, sneaky dances, and oth­er, def­i­nite­ly mean­ing­ful, disasters.

This piece is a kind of sci­ence fic­tion. It imag­ines a future in which things work a bit dif­fer­ent­ly than they do here and now, a future in which this piece is wide­ly loved, its sen­si­bil­i­ty appre­ci­at­ed, its craft revered.

I have built the piece’s har­mo­ny using eighth-tones, pitch­es that divide the octave into 48 equal parts rather than the stan­dard 12. In this vast­ly expand­ed pitch space, famil­iar chords coex­ist with wild­ly unfa­mil­iar har­monies, and play­ers’ instru­ments are ren­dered unfa­mil­iar technology. 

Like any sci­ence fic­tion, this piece is about the past and how it might hope­ful­ly become a more appalling and embar­rass­ing future. It includes three time cap­sules, each about 5 min­utes long. The first, titled Torch Song, fea­tures two slow-motion phras­es for string quar­tet: two Beethoven bob­ble­heads shiv­er­ing with fury. The sec­ond move­ment, Hon­or and Fideli­ty, sees the full ensem­ble chart a course from the roman­tic aspi­ra­tions of the string quar­tet to a brief and sneaky dance. The final move­ment, Ship­wrecks on the Shore of Mean­ing, is accu­rate­ly titled.

Details

Com­mis­sioned by Tim Weiss for the Ober­lin Sin­foni­et­ta. Pre­miered March 2018.

Year Completed

2018

Duration

15 minutes

Instrumentation

For Sinfonietta

More Info

This piece is a kind of sci­ence fic­tion. It imag­ines a future in which things work a bit dif­fer­ent­ly than they do here and now, a future in which this piece is wide­ly loved, its sen­si­bil­i­ty appre­ci­at­ed, its craft revered.

I have built the piece’s har­mo­ny using eighth-tones, pitch­es that divide the octave into 48 equal parts rather than the stan­dard 12. In this vast­ly expand­ed pitch space, famil­iar chords coex­ist with wild­ly unfa­mil­iar har­monies, and play­ers’ instru­ments are ren­dered unfa­mil­iar technology. 

Like any sci­ence fic­tion, this piece is about the past and how it might hope­ful­ly become a more appalling and embar­rass­ing future. It includes three time cap­sules, each about 5 min­utes long. The first, titled Torch Song, fea­tures two slow-motion phras­es for string quar­tet: two Beethoven bob­ble­heads shiv­er­ing with fury. The sec­ond move­ment, Hon­or and Fideli­ty, sees the full ensem­ble chart a course from the roman­tic aspi­ra­tions of the string quar­tet to a brief and sneaky dance. The final move­ment, Ship­wrecks on the Shore of Mean­ing, is accu­rate­ly titled.