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Les Crapauds de la fontaine (the Toads from the Fountain)

for bass clarinet and fixed media

In the summer of 2008, I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia in a development called La Fontaine. On the surface, it looked like a quiet, quaint community with a fountain in the middle of a pond. But that summer was not quiet. When the sun went down, the sounds of the creatures outside were astonishingly clamorous, making themselves known even inside the sealed air-conditioned apartments. One evening, I went out to investigate. I found that the frogs and toads were having quite the party! (Later, armed with a guide from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, I identified them as Fowler’s Toad, Green Treefrog, and Cope’s Gray Treefrog.) As I wandered along the grass, I heard snippets of melodies and polyrhythms that could serve as the accompaniment to a human dance party. 

Les Crapauds de la Fontaine was commissioned by the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival in Fall 2015. Many thanks go to Benjamin Broening, Andrea Cheeseman, and Andrew Kovaleski for their assistance in bringing the piece to life.


for euphonium and fixed media

Phantasy (n): a term used in the theory of psychoanalysis to describe unconscious desires, fears, drives, etc.

Eu-.  Indicates: Well, pleasant, or beneficial, from the Greek eus; for example, euphonium = eu (good) + phonos (sound).

Euphantasy (n): a musical piece that explores unconscious desires, fears, and drives with the aid of live euphonium and computer-processed sounds.

Euphantasy was commissioned by Lloyd Bone and was premiered by Hiram Diaz in January 2006.  The electronic sounds were derived exclusively from the euphonium itself and were processed primarily with the composer’s granular sampling software, Amber.


for flute and electronics

The word phyllotaxis means “leaf arrangement” in Greek.  It describes the phenomenon that plants seem to grow in patterns that make for the most efficient use of space.  As a plant grows, the number of “turns” made before a new leaf or petal appears is called the phyllotactic ratio, and common ratios include 1/2, 2/5, 3/8—all ratios involving numbers from the Fibonacci sequence.  On a sunflower head, the eye is drawn to clockwise and counterclockwise spirals, and there are usually 34 going one way and 55 going the other way—also Fibonacci numbers!  This phenomenon can be recreated by generating successive points on a spiral that are separated by 137.5 degrees—the “Golden Angle” or 360°/Φ.


Phyllotaxis makes extensive use of the Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio, and the Golden Angle.  The piece is separated into four sections, all of which have a golden relationship with the succeeding sections in terms of elapsed time.  The pitch material of each section is derived from various methods related to Fibonacci numbers, Lucas numbers, and the Golden Angle. Through these compositional processes, I hope to capture some of the intrinsic beauty of natural objects like the pinecone, the pineapple, and the rose.


Phyllotaxis was composed for Kimberlee Goodman with the partial support of the Otterbein Faculty Development Committee. The electronic sound is derived from earlier recordings of the flute part and from live processing of the flute, both of which are controlled from a Max patch.

Old Soul

for alto flute and electronics

Do you ever feel that the age of your soul doesn’t match with the age of your body? The title Old Soul came about in a conversation with flutist Lindsey Goodman where she described herself as an “old soul in a new body.” Initially, it was uttered in a musical context, referring to the conflict between the classic music that she loved to listen to and the avant-garde things that she loved to play. It was something that resonated with me as a composer who has frequently struggled with reconciling my desire to write “pretty music” with my desire to experiment with techniques more at home in the “new music” world.  I started thinking about the meaning of “old soul” and the alienation that one can feel when there seems to be a disconnect between our inner being and our outer lives. But then, is there really a problem, or are we just too “young” to put the pieces together? This piece celebrates reaching a certain age and realizing that the things you thought were conflicts and contradictions growing up have shaped you into your real self.

for trombone and fixed media

When trombonist Tony Weikel asked me to write him a piece, I thought about how we had both grown up in Western New York, and how I might celebrate that connection. I remembered learning “Low Bridge, Everybody Down” in music class, and riding a boat through the locks of the Erie Canal was standard field trip fare for the school kids of our region.


The Erie Canal began operation in 1825, almost 200 years ago. Though “Low Bridge” has the air of a folk tune that could have been sung by people who worked along the canal in its early days, it was written by Thomas Allen, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter. The song references the lift bridges that were constructed in the early 1900s. “Everybody Down” refers to the passengers riding on the top of boats who would have to get out of the way while going underneath a bridge. I found that the first recording of this song was made by Billy Murray in 1912 and that it had recently entered the public domain. Thus, the recording became a character in the piece, adding a note of nostalgia.


The piece opens with the trombone giving three “horn blasts” on a low F. Three horn blasts signaled to lift bridge operators that a boat was approaching, so that they could shut down traffic across the bridge and ring bells as they moved the bridge up and down for the boat to pass through. Throughout the piece, you will hear sequences of three horn blasts and various lift bridge bells recorded along the Canal. The rest of the electronic sounds come from recorded, processed, or sampled trombone. I imagined the music as an echo of bygone days along the 363-mile stretch of the Canal, evoking both the clamor of the cities and the tranquility of the spots in between.


15 Years (on the Erie Canal) was commissioned by Tony Weikel and completed in February 2023.

Old Soul
15 Years
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