P I E C E S _ O F _ P L A C E

aerial satellite image of one tributary of the Chesapeake Bay

An ongoing series of works for chamber ensembles +/- electronics that explores the effects of global warming on places I’ve called home

Each Piece of Place explores the effects of global warming on a place I’ve called home by superimposing different timescales: geological, human, biological, tidal, and others. Musically, these are articulated with rhythms, phrasing and larger forms to create a feeling of events unfolding simultaneously on these vastly different timescales. My goal is to not only to make audible the complex systems involved in global warming, but also to make space and time for myself and others to feel through these overwhelmingly large processes on a personal and emotional level. I hope this will help build strength for collective consciousness and action.

Pieces of Place I: Chesapeake

for flute/piccolo, clarinet in A, violin, cello, double bass, electric guitar, synthesizer, percussion and electronics

duration: 9′

Pieces of Place I: Chesapeake is based on the northeastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, where I spent many childhood summers. The piece is structured around three superimposed timescales: geological, human, and tidal. A sparse and continuous electronics part runs throughout, providing a sonic horizon. It was created by stretching a recording of waves at high tide and superimposing that recording at different octaves. This reduced the pitch by one, two, and three octaves, and reinforced a low A fundamental with an upper partial of A 436 (Hz). For this reason, the ensemble tunes to A 436 instead of the typical A 440.

The Chesapeake Bay began forming thirty-five million years ago when a giant meteor, perhaps more than two miles in diameter, collided near the present-day mouth of the Bay where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The meteor was traveling somewhere in the realm of 70,000 miles per hour, and it created a massive tidal wave that wiped out much of the life on the surrounding land. Around 10,000 years ago, indigenous people began living in the region. European colonists arrived about 500 years ago. In a short period of time, the Powhatan, Nanticoke, and Piscataway peoples, along with other indigenous peoples in the region, were forced out by violence, disease, and unfair negotiations with the colonists. Large-scale agriculture, livestock farming, deforestation, and heavy industry made the Chesapeake Bay one of the most toxic bodies of water in North America by the mid-1900s. Rising sea levels, one of the many effects of human-caused climate change, are projected to cover the peninsula on which I composed this piece by the year 3000.

Tributaries I

A work for solo double bass that imagines the flow of water, organic materials, and pollution through the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

Pieces of Place II: Catskills

for string quartet + electronics

Tributaries II

A work for solo percussion that imagines the flow of water, organic materials, and pollution through the Hudson River and its watershed.

Pieces of Place III: New York City

for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion and electronics