Substanceial Decay

In July of 2014 I had the great fortune of spending two full weeks in residence at STEIM. During this time, I began work on a new composition for fixed media, voice, and percussion entitled Substanceial Decay. I was also invited to perform for an open event hosted at STEIM called Sessionview, where I gave a performance of Alexander Schubert’s Your Fox’s a Dirty Gold for solo performer, guitar, and motion sensors. This was the final performance of a 3 week tour of theatrically driven electroacoustic percussion music with performances taking place in Hamburg, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam.
Sessionview – 2014

STEIM provided me with a unique environment for composing that took me far from the comfort zone of my studio in Queens, New York. The equipment I had access to at STEIM far exceeded anything I had ever used before and had a major impact on the material I created while in residence.  This served as inspiration to make upgrades to my own studio and I have since made major upgrades to my personal recording equipment over the last two years.  Also helpful to me in a completely different way was my lack of access to percussion instruments. While at STEIM, I had the few items I brought with me for my tour.  This forced me to explore every sonic possibility of some very small instruments and turned out to be essential in the development of the work. The abundance of recording equipment coupled with my limited physical instruments resulted in a piece that stayed true to my aesthetic of theatrically driven electro-acoustic percussion music, yet was realized with a fresh new perspective and view of sound and timbre that is still influencing my work today.

When working in my personal studio, I have access to an extremely large arsenal of percussion instruments both traditional and non traditional.  My music tends to focus on a sonic world where timbre is harmony and harmony is timbre.  The quality of the sound and its innards are always priority.  Because I am constantly searching for what lies beyond the surface of an instrument’s natural timbre, I too have become interested in the concept of finding where two sounds intersect, often due to the commonalities of the harmonic spectrum.  These ideas often lead to constructing very large percussion setups.  Because there is always another sound to dissect, I always reach for it, sometimes constructing a mammoth setup in the process.  My studio contains a plethora of synthesizers and guitar effects pedals. I often include many of these items in a physical setup for a piece.  At STEIM I had access to 3 threaded bolts, 1 small inverted splash cymbal, 4 small pitched gongs, and a small almglocken.  With the aid of high quality microphones, and amazing Genelec studio monitors, I was able to crawl inside of the dense sonic possibilities of these small pieces of metal, and with the aid of my home studio, was able to create the fixed media portion of the piece using material and samples of these small pieces of metal.  I was also able to access qualities of my voice that I had, up to this point, never explored.  I found techniques that, in a live setting, did not project as they need to, yet with the aid of some quality studio work, they created a timbrally exciting and haunting effect.  All in all, the inspiration of working under new and foreign conditions, coupled with the excitement of being in the company of the world class instrument and software developers at STEIM within a culturally rich and diverse center such as Amsterdam, allowed me to compose a piece that is totally new and unique to my repertoire.  This piece could not have come to existence in this way had it not have been for my time at STEIM.  I carry these influences with me in my composing today.

Substanceial Decay was completed in October, 2015 and received it’s world premiere at the Secret Theater in Long Island City, Queens on November 22, 2015.  The video of this performance can be viewed below.

Substanceial Decay – World Premiere

Final setup for Dennis Sullivan's "Substanceial Decay" composed in July 2014 at STEIM

Final setup for Dennis Sullivan’s “Substanceial Decay” composed in July 2014 at STEIM