Kept Unharmed (2012) (4′)
for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, electric guitar, and bass
performed by ECCE (Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble)
Bamboo Grove Salon (Portland, OR), May 19, 2012
I wrote this piece for a sextet of talented wind and string players. Dig their melodies, their enveloping verticalities, and their sculpting of time. The consonances that color the dissonances in this work suggest to me a preserving effort, or a “keeping unharmed.”
“A work exists only if it is the unforeseeable become necessity.” — Pierre Boulez
Recent pieces have been extraordinarily unforeseeable. I began 2012 by writing Kate, my most technically challenging and atonal piece to date, and following hard upon was Thirst, a sax quartet that constitutes my most thoroughgoing melodic effort and my first piece to use a key signature. Kept Unharmed was the third piece I worked on in 2012, and it’s easy for me to hear it as drawing on elements of both. The textures are dense, but there are melodies buried within that bring it to life. The music is full of long note values and looks simple, but the details of balance, intonation, and tempo can make or break a performance. Uniting all those elements in this piece (simplicity and ease, but also nuance; dense textures and dissonant harmony, but also easy-going flow and euphonious melody) became a very satisfying necessity. My first effort for this ensemble consisted of some fast nonsense. Luckily I had the sense to conceive the piece anew.