Combine. 2nd movement- Records - For Two Piano and Effects Pedals (2005)
Ever since seeing Grandmaster Flash give a musical demonstration of hip-hop record spinning in 2005, I have been fascinated by the idea of taking two distinct musical materials and overlapping and crosscutting them to create something new. My first attempt at this was Combine, in which I wrote two separate piano pieces and, using effects pedals, treated them as if operated by an imaginary turntable performer. The first movement, Harvester, was based on the rhythm and construction of Harvester engines I heard growing up at my grandparents' house in rural western North Carolina.
Into the River and Through the Wood
1st movement - 'Suspension' (2007)
Prepared Piano and 3 percussionists
A lot of my music is based on favorite memories of sounds from childhood, like power tools and listening to music while snorkling in the bathtub at home. And, of course, the sound of the shark rising out of the water at the end of Jaws!! That was amazing hearing the frequencies submerged and altered above the surface.... Growing up I had a VHS copy of Jaws recorded off TV that I played in the background while I practiced piano and did homework. Good times. Anyway, so back to this music!... I took the song 'Over the River and Through the Woods' and pretended to submerge and shred it with a chainsaw. I used weather stripping (putty type) on the piano strings for doubling pitches, quarter tones, and bringing out certain harmonics. The upper piano part shows what is played, the lower shows what is heard. Probably the only time I'll write in a score, "Like an underwater fart rising to the surface..." For the love of hydro-acoustics.
The Magic Word - Etude No.3 (2015)
Jurassic Park/Dennis Nedry Tribute
for 2 vocalists, 2 keyboards, 2 percussionists, electric bass
I saw Jurassic Park the first Friday morning it came out in June 1993, and it was the most memorable movie I saw in the theater growing up. I saw it probably 4-5 more times that summer and played the hell out of the JP pinball machine at the local arcade, also wrote a piano arrangement of the various themes. I could go on and on, but about this song:
"Ah ah ah, you didn't say the magic word"
This song is about Dennis Nedry, the Jurassic Park computer security character played by Wayne Knight. Nedry in the book and film is killed by a venom-spitting dinosaur, Dilophosaurus, while trying to smuggle dinosaur embryos out of the park in a Barbasol can. This song imagines he survived, collected the 1.5 million reward for the stolen embryos, and wrote a diss track to his former Jurassic Park employers. Nedry now sees himself as some kind of lady's man. The lyrics are all Jurassic Park-related, now with sexual innuendo. This recording features the wonderful Debrissa McKinney. The score is written in 4/4 and 5/8, but it's a little more like 13/8 over 4/4, sometimes 7/8.
I later made a found footage music video for it with CGI dinosaurs and all my childhood JP memorabilia. And my dad even played the role of Dodgson!