When I began seriously studying composition in 1975 with Denman Maroney, I felt a need for some formal organizing force, preferably one of my own making. I had been researching Surrealism and this led me to order my compositions based on the form and content of dreams, my “Dream Interpretation Technique”. This was my first attempt at external order based on natural phenomena.
It wasn’t until I began composing again in earnest in 2012 (during the thick of Mission of Burma’s second act) that I moved beyond “improvising” structure and occasionally utilizing dreams for order. I began to actively use natural phenomena to structure my compositions: the slowed down sound of a dried maple-leaf being crushed, or the way the vines grew on my garage door. When these phenomena are successfully interpreted, the shape of rocks, patterns of leaves, vines on walls, wind in trees, etc., create new organic structures for compositions. Many of my Nature-Based compositions resemble Games: Parameters and Rules, initial conditions, are defined at the start. One follows the Rules and the Game unfolds.
At times I am interested in specific pitches, and loosely utilize rows to this end. At other times, I eliminate concert pitch as much as possible (string glissandi, prepared piano, detuning): there is no “A 440” in nature.
The same with rhythm. In some of my work, events happen in a clock-based time, with no sense of rhythm at all, each sound existing on its own. At other times, the music veers closely to “a groove”. Rock music has been an integral part of my life.
My compositions range within the areas defined above: some very rhythmic, and some with each sound having its own time. Some compositions have clear melodic/harmonic motifs, others have no agreed-upon harmonic progress at all. Some are structured in what may appear to be random order, but are composed by rigorously attending to a natural phenomena. And others nearly appear to be “songs.” My interests in sound and music is diverse.