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Decade Zero for brass quintet and computer is dedicated to the Western Brass Quartet. The term “Decade Zero” refers to the point in human history at which humans can either deal with climate change or deal with the imminent, irrevocable changes to the planet. The piece represents a struggle of environmental activists and climate scientists to demonstrate the necessity of change and to propose sustainable practices. The recording of this project was supported by a Kalamazoo Arts Development Initiative grant from the Kalamazoo Arts Council.

 

Externalities for amplified cello, digital audio, and digital video was completed in 2011. The piece reflects on economic externalities—costs of economic and consumer actions that are not reflected in the pricing of consumer goods. The piece focuses primarily on negative environmental externalities. The cellist represents a consumer attempting to decipher how to operate within a system in order to minimize the negative impacts of their actions.

 

The initial impetus for the work was Alan Moore’s graphic novel Promethea. Moore’s novel combines typical comic book superhero action with abstract conversations about and adventurers through a fantastical posthumous world. This mix of recognizable, popular action and abstract philosophical meandering are represented in the work.

 

A Letter to the Moon is dedicated to the SPLICE Ensemble. The work draws inspiration from the short story The Distance to the Moon from Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics.” In the story the characters have an interdependency with the moon: they harvest materials from the moon when it is close enough. However, their situation changes as the moon’s orbit widens and it moves further from the earth. When this happens their actions no longer have the same results and they have no power to control the changing orbit. Additionally, some characters have undisclosed plans that further disrupt the normal flow of events. Musically the electronic processing represents the changing, unpredictable context in which the characters find themselves. The recording of this work was supported by a grant from the Support for Faculty Scholars (SFSA), Western Michigan University (WMU).

 

Recombinant Serenade is dedicated to Lin Foulk. The work is a series of variations on and over the “Prologue” of Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings. The electronics blend audio files generated from a recording of Dr. Foulk playing Britten’s work on natural horn and live electronics.

 

Decoherence is dedicated to Samuel Wells and was commissioned by a consortium consisting of Samuel Wells, Aaron Hodgson, Scott Thornburg, and the UMKC Trumpet Studio. Decoherence is a phenomenon whereby particles that have probable locations take on a specific location when observed by a human. This is represented through the presentations of hundreds of possible representations of a single pitch on the trumpet followed by the performer’s decision to play the pitch in a specific manner. One possible explanation for how probable locations collapse into a specific location is that all probable locations come to exist in their own parallel universe upon observation. As the work progresses the trumpet player has less and less freedom as the specific universe they inhabit becomes defined by past decisions.

 

Amass for clarinet and computer was completed in 2012 for clarinetist Andrés Mauricio Salguero. The work combines live instrumental performance, real-time digital signal processing, and triggered audio files. There are seven types of musical materials that are presented in the work. Each type of material develops nonlinearly and represents a social force, group, and/or organization. As the work progresses the divisions between the different materials progressively dissolves. The work symbolizes a society that desires change more than the stability of past practices or group identity. This work was inspired by the “Arab Spring” movements in the Middle East and the Occupy Wall Street movements in the United States.

 

-C. Biggs

 

NOTES

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