each other (2015)
for any two wind instruments (as long as one has a lower register than the other), and optional bowed crotales

With this piece, I’ve attempted to recapture the intimacy of a particular moment. I was falling asleep with someone in the earliest hours of a Sunday morning – in the quiet of the room, all I could hear was the soft rising and falling of our breathing, a duet out of phase.

The sound of gentle, independent breathing, lightly amplified by the clarinets, forms a backdrop out of which wisps of a Bach invention surface and vanish. If Bach’s music, with its tight contrapuntal intercourse, might be likened to harmony between souls, I hope that my effacement of it evokes such a harmony in an even tenderer, fragile space: two lovers whispering, or dreaming of each other.

May 2015

First performance by members of 15.19ensemble (highSCORE Festival, Pavia, Italy; 8/2015; Soundcloud audio below)

Additional performances by:
Nicole Galisatus and Dalton Tran (UCLA, 11/2015; video below)
Wild Up (UCLA, 3/2016; as part of “Faded Songs”)

Learning Nancarrow’s Canon A (5/7)

  • Ursula Oppens told me that she subdivided each bar into 35 parts. This seems at once sensible and totally ridiculous.

  • 5 = 2+3; 7 = 2+2+3; think of each bar as a 3 against 2 but with one of the beats elongated.

  • Meter more about inflection than precision of duration.

Recent interests – discontinuity, pieces that sound like they are eternally beginning (Irving Fine on Martinu: “stringing together of introductions, never a consequent phrase”

memorable Cage moment:

in our edition of Atlas Eclipticalis, there was a system that ended with an entire quadrant of silence. conducting (i.e. moving my arm very slowly) through this long empty time felt like a bad dream – standing in front of a group of musicians not making any sound for 30 seconds while an audience watches your back? surreal.

Recent interests:

  • Kacey Musgraves, “Love is a Wild Thing”, “Happy and Sad”, “Space Cowboy”, “Rainbow”

  • Lucia Dlugoszewski

  • Charlie Sdraulig, “collector”

  • Kunsu Shim, “A Lasting Song for Geha”

  • Ariana Grande, thank u, next

  • Terry Riley, The Heaven Ladder, Book 5

  • Arthur Berger, Five Pieces

  • Robert Palmer, Sonata for Piano (Four Hands)

  • Stefan Wolpe, “Form” and “Form IV”

  • Brian Ferneyhough, “Lemma-Icon-Epigram”

    • in search of a sensible complexity…?

from Abby Whiteside:

Power must be so snug that it chokes out of the fingers.

Faulty coordination always involves overactivity in articulation.

Most technical difficulties which persist are the result of reaching with the fingers for key position. This reaching with the fingers practically insures that the fingers will act independently of the arm – they will get there first; and when they do they furnish the power for tone. Then it is that no feeling of complete efficiency in playing ever appears. Fingers have been publicized as the all-efficient tool for playing. They should be publicized as simply the periphery of the playing mechanism.

music for everyday living – between the mundane + the mystical

  • Satie – Nocturnes, Sports et divertissement

  • Cage – ASLSP, Etudes Australes

  • Kurtág – Jatékók

  • Crane – Birthday Piece for Michael Finnissy, Derridas, Kierkegaards, Piano Piece No. 23 “Ethiopian Distance Runners”

  • Janáček – On an Overgrown Path

  • Beglarian – A Book of Days

  • Federico Mompou – Música callada

  • Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier

  • Spiegel – piano pieces

  • Otte – Stundenbüch

a new recording of my friend Haosi Howard Chen’s new piece, SEHNSÜCHTE. look at that handsome mug!

this was recorded with a Zoom mic placed inside the piano – the percussive sounds of the pedals (some desired, some squeaks undesired but lovable) and the subtle resonance effects are much more pronounced here than on a live recording. there’s a lo-fi intimacy to the sound quality that I think is not inappropriate for the piece, which I find movingly inward.

now, on the other side of my master’s recital, thinking about programming for further solo recitals. what are they good for? what would be an idea that necessitates the intimacy of this format?

revisiting this wonderful set by Federico Mompou – they’re subtler, more moving than I remember. fragile, music for being alone – listening to a performance of this feels like we are privy to someone’s deeply interior world; diary entries? (going along with the beautiful Cagean idea of music as a way of waking up to the life we live – “normal music” for the sacred procedure of living day-by-day)

it’s 3:18am and I can’t fall (back) asleep and I’m reminded of that one time when we were high school freshmen when a friend of mine asked “do you ever just lie in bed and think about the future and get really really scared?” and how it’s wild to think we (first) had this thought at least ten years of our lives ago

in the winter the sun sets so much earlier and up here it just feels like afternoon all day, and it’s kind of beautiful but it makes me wistful and sad too, which reminds me of that Anne Carson poem that starts, “Beauty makes me hopeless,” and it makes sense to me in that sometimes beautiful things take me out of the general malaise and troubles of daily living, or at least allow me to put some distance between them and myself, and it’s wistful and sad that beauty cannot actually make them disappear forever, or bring back a time before they took shape in the first place, or last forever itself, no matter how much I wish it so or feel it so in the moment

and that reminds me of that Dorothea Lasky poem about writing poems – making “art” or whatever – to hold on to things, and I didn’t really get that until recently, and I hope this year and onward to learn to do this too, because otherwise beauty can only make me hopeless, but if putting it into things or making it myself makes me kind of hopeful, even if only temporarily, maybe these afternoon-days won’t all feel so short

January 2018

my 2018 was largely defined by my relationship with "my work" (i.e. music-making), which has both challenged and rewarded me in greater measures than ever previously.

I say "my work" because it's somewhat new and somewhat strange to me to be thinking about music as such. I don't know what I really thought it all "was" before it gradually became "work". practicing, rehearsing, composing, recording, engraving, accompanying, teaching, website editing, making money – no matter how intense, I had always felt they were all satellite activities to each other, and so for a long time I felt my time and energy were infinite and expendable to pour into one or another.

it was startling to me just how quickly this came to feel less and less possible this year: whereas once I felt I was never "really" working, I began this year to feel I was really always working, or thinking about working. I still don't know exactly how to tell people what I do in my "free time" because I feel like whatever I have of it (it's always either more or less than I think) I am always trying to fill it with (explicitly music-related) "productivity".

one the one hand, the year was indeed massively productive: I had the pleasure being involved in a number of deeply meaningful projects (some "big" and personally "threshold-raising"), I wrote more music than I ever have since I graduated with my degree in doing just that, and have even been able to cover most of my living expenses (imagine that!). many of the friendships made and deepened through all these endeavors I'll treasure for a lifetime.

on the other, it has left me feeling rather tired (the "good kind of tired", but even that can be in excess), and rather unrelatable outside of music – a troubling irony, as I feel strongly that music should rejuvenate, and bring people together as people. it's all made me wonder "Who I Am" aside from what I "Do", and, in a medium as humane as music, whether even my music-making can be relatable.

I'm flattered when my friends tell me they are happy to see me pursuing "my passion". it's not always a noble or glamorous way of living, but it's all too easy for me to forget that it's still certainly one of great privilege, and one I'm still devoted to following. however I hope to be able to cultivate, in the new year and beyond, clearer notions of work (and music as and as not) and self that will make both of them sustainable, and even synergistic with each other.