Large Ensemble Music


music written for Nathan Hubbard/Skeleton Key Orchestra

A Murder of Crows (2001, revised 2003) 19 page score, transposed parts (five woodwinds-sop/alto sax, tenor sax/flute, alto/tenor sax, tenor/bari sax/bass clar, bari/bass sax/bassoon; two trumpets, horn, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, violin, two electric guitars, cello, three basses (two dbl. electric), four percussion (two drumkits/vibraphone/marimba/glockenspiel/chimes), four electronics)
A down
B we fall
C thru
D the coils
E step
F by step
G dream
H to
I dream

who will cast
the first stone?
i am guilty
leaving not to wonder
i am guilty
left alone to die
a murder of crows
down we fall thru the coils
step by step
dream to dream
we die not of death
we die of forget
given the option
i would rather sleep
let the stars dream in silence
the whole world is shrinking
to the size of my fears

And We All Fall Down (2006-2008 ) eight page score, transposed parts (two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, two trumpets, horn, two trombones, tuba, drumkit and percussion)

Crows On The Roof (2004-2005) ? page score, transposed parts (five woodwinds - 2 soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bari sax; two trumpets, horn, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, 2 guitars, 2 electric basses, acoustic bass, 4 percussion - two drumkits, two multi-percussion)

Don't Look Says The Crow (i don't believe you) (2002-2003) 20 page score, transposed parts (five woodwinds-alto sax/clar/dopplerophone, alto sax/dopplerophone, tenor sax/clar/dopplerophone, tenor sax/dopplerophone, baritone sax/dopplerophone; two trumpets, horn, two trombones, bass trombone, violin, cello, two electric guitars, two basses, prepared piano, four percussion -two drumkits, vibraphone, marimba, hand drums)

East On 53rd Street (2002-2003) ? page score, transposed parts (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, two trumpets, horn, trombone, bass trombone, two guitars, electric bass, acoustic bass, two drumkits, extended percussion (two congas, two bells, two talking drums, sticks, handclaps, large shaker), electronics
    Very rarely do i remember any of my dreams. The dreams i do remember usually last only a few days before fading into memory. However, East on 53rd Street comes from a dream i had that i still remember vividly. In my dream, i was standing on 53rd and El Cajon, and as i was standing there i began to hear music. Coming around the corner was a large group of brass players, drummers and dancers, much like videos of funerals in Ghana i have seen. Leading this group was John Coltrane, playing the tenor saxophone. The most interesting part was the fact that he was "playing" Albert Ayler. So this piece was inspired by that dream, by Alberts music, by Komla Amoaku's tales of his father starting brass bands across Ghana, the musical styles Kpanlogo (Ghana) and Guaguanco (Cuba) and the Folkways record company.

Furiously Dreaming (2005) ? page score, transposed parts (upper winds, lower winds, upper brass, lower brass, piano/organ, cello, 2 guitars, 2 basses, 2 percussion, voice)

Is That You (Earl)?/Dogs Don't Bark At Ghosts (1996-2002) two page score, transposed parts (soprano/alto saxophone, two tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, trumpet, trombone, two guitars, two basses, drumkit/percussion)
    Is that you (earl)?/dogs don't bark at ghost is one of my oldest compositions, the skeletal frame work for the piece was written in 1996. This piece took a few different twists and turns and after much revision it became a staple of the Return To One repertoire. The arrangement for Skeleton Key Orchestra follows the original fairly closely, extending and abstracting the harmony presented by the various lines of the piece. The arrangement uses a layering technique with three levels of harmony, alto/soprano sax with trumpet, two tenor saxes and baritone sax with trombone. The bass/tenor duet has been expanded to a bass/tenor vs. bass/tenor quartet and the larger orchestration also allows for more antiphonal presentation of sections E1 and I.

Making My Way Thru It/Waiting In Vain (1998-2002) MMW - 4 page score, transposed parts (flute, violin, alto saxophone, guitar, tenor saxophone, cello, bass clarinet, bass)
Monday Morning (song in the middle) - 1 page lead sheet
WIV - 3 page score, transposed parts (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, two tenor saxophones, violin, two electric guitars, electric bass, acoustic bass, drumkit)
    MMWTI/WIV was written as i fell in love with a girl, and it was finished as i realized it would never work and there was no way i could tell her anything of what i felt. Funny the difference between working for something and something working inside of you. This was a strange period, intensely inspired, large amounts of material pouring out. And at the same time i found myself in a relationship that was not working (and me not trying very hard to make it work) and falling for someone else. So what do you do? Follow the muse? Daydream in silence?
Monday Morning
bright lights shining in
tales of morning
clock says its eight
dreaming of you
singing birds tell me tales
lies from the other side
waiting in vain
dreaming of you
second time should have known
monday morning
clock says its eight…

    So anyway, this piece is three pieces that all work together. I originally wrote it for RTO as a studio/overdub project, but we started performing it live with SKO. The first piece is a four voice modal fugue with each voice being doubled. The fugue slowly evolves into a more atonal harmonic space, the motives are fragments and after a time the duos are playing these motives with brief improvisations between them in a very antiphonal setting of the material. This evolves into an open improvisation for the octet. My original idea was to add electronic processing at this point to extend the range of the sound, this was accomplished in the mixing stage by running the track thru several processors, adding a more malleable transition to the song. The song in the middle (Monday Morning) is a transition between the two outer portions, and it really is a song, lyrics and everything. The group Ember (Kevin Tinkle, Justin Grinnell, NMH) recorded the song for the SKO recording. However, due to the time limits of the CD, i had to cut it. I'm hoping to have an alternate mix up on this site soon. This song segues into WIV, which opens with a melodic statement with notated wind backgrounds and bass line. This falls into a hypnotic 9/4 bass vamp for Lee Elderton to solo over. This vamp also has a background figure (originally written for three marimbas, later changed to two electric guitars and one electric bass) which forms a "groove canon" by restating this 5+4 figure on three different instruments ever third beat. This all repeats under the solo and notated melody out. The coda drops the bass line, keeps the "canon" vamps and presents two different melodies, one a nine beat figure played by the alto and two tenors, the other an eight beat figure played in canon by the violin and soprano sax. This takes seventy-two beats to resolve. Clear as mud? A remix of this track will be posted soon, i swear . . . .

Mirror Forgot (2005) for large ensemble, ? page score, transposed parts for 6 woodwinds, 2 trumpets, horn, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, piano, guitars, cello, basses and percussion.
     for cEVIN Key.

Other Ideas (2004) for large ensemble, 20 page score, parts (five woodwinds-flute/clarinet/soprano saxophone, alto saxophone/clarinet, clarinet/tenor saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet/baritone saxophone, two trumpet/flugelhorn, horn, two tenor trombone, bass trombone, tuba, piano, two basses, four percussion)
    From October of 2002 to March of 2004, the Trummerflora Collective ran a performance/rehearsal/meeting space on Washington Avenue in SD. As things often do, our time there ended. After spending a few to many afternoons alone in the space (practicing, mixing, listening to CDs, etc.), i began recording different sounds of the space. This led to write notated sections devised to be recorded in different parts of the space, and this slowly developed into this piece, a tribute to a small performance space and Marcos Fernandes, the man who allowed this to happen.

Raincastle (2001, revised 2003) 33 page score, parts (five woodwinds-soprano/alto sax, soprano/tenor sax/flute, alto/tenor sax, tenor sax/bass clar, baritone sax/flute; two trumpets, horn, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, three violins, two celli, two electric guitars, three basses (one dbl. electric), harp, pipe organ (or synthesizer), four percussion -drumkit/vibraphone, drumkit/marimba, hand drums/vibraphone, marimba)
A twilight
B early evening
C late evening
D midnight
E 2:00am
F 3:00am
G dawn
H morning (purple orchids)
    Raincastle was the first piece i wrote for SKO. Like most of the early SKO pieces, Raincastle is a multisectional piece with improvisational sections for smaller groups. Section A is a group improvisation over five chords, as the section develops rhythmic ostinati enter. These ostinati also develop as the chords get stacked on top of each other. Section B serves as a double improv for two ensembles, the conductor switching between the two with handsigns. There are also four backgrounds the conductor can bring in at any time. Section C is a large notated section in 5/4, this is perhaps the most "big band" like material i've written for this group. Section D is an improv section for Return To One with five backgrounds to be brought in at any time by the conductor. Section E is is a notated section, almost the "shout chorus" for the piece. My thought for this section was similar to a wake, where everyone is very sad but also very happy to see people they have not seen in a long time. So many things to say (why not try saying them all at once). This segueways into section F, a solo section with a page of shape notation for the group to play as backgrounds in any order, giving the soloist a constantly changing background to play over. This sections ends with each section playing a notated shape exit vamp in unison. The band is cued out for section G, an open bass trio improv. Section H is a guitar solo with a notated string section as background. The guitar then plays unaccompanied to the end.
    This piece is dedicated to my friend Dara Welty, who taught me that music can be a life sustaining force and that beauty is often where you are least looking. Stars like angels follow us and lead you back home.

San Dieguito River (2002, revised 2003) score, transposed parts (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, two electric guitars, two basses, piano, drumkit/percussion)
    San Dieguito River comes from the suite of tunes entitled Encinitas And Everything After. The piece was inspired by the twenty-seven miles that the San Dieguito River takes from the Anza-Borrego Desert to meet the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar. The music is based on different layers of instruments and interaction, with the double bass line with percussion forming an ostinato that plays thru-out the piece. The two pianos and the wind/strings instruments have been given four to five background cues for each solo section to be cued by section leaders. Depending on where and when these backgrounds are played, different strata appear, with backgrounds of different lengths revolving and intertwining. Over this activity, two soloists (in this case, a wind player and a guitarist) play with and against this modal backdrop, constantly shifting between simultaneous soloing, accompanying each other or dropping out to allow the other to solo. Structurally the piece opens and closes with these solos, with a large notated section in the middle. The notated section takes these ideas of strata to heart, with two overlapping wind ostinati (tenor saxophone and horn, bass clarinet and bassoon) slowly developing as the soprano saxophone/violin melody unfolds.
In addition to the river, this piece was inspired by my Aunt Sandys tales of riding her bike to Del Mar (on the dirt, still being build, interstate 5) to visit Stella as a teenager, by Stellas paintings of Del Mar and by a great morning with my little sister taking pictures of the birds and the train tracks where the river mouth meets the ocean.

Sand, Wind and the Vast Pacific Ocean (2002, revised 2003) transposed parts/score (one for strings, one for winds) (soprano saxophone, clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, violin, electric guitar, cello, acoustic bass, harp, piano, drumkit/percussion)
    Sand, Wind... is about Swami's, about standing at the edge of the world watching the sun pass over one more time. Late fall evenings at Moonlight with the wind pouring off the ocean and you sheilding your ears from the cold. Its about the sea cliffs in encinitas, worn from the water and the wind, giant statues of passing time and slow moving change.

Skeleton Key Theme (2002-2008) transposed parts/score (two soprano saxophones, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, two trumpets, horn, two trombones, bass trombone, electric bass, drumkit/percussion)

Sleep/Dream/Silence (2004) for medium ensemble and two poets, 8 page score, parts (two violins, cello, two basses, two guitars, harp, two vibraphones, marimba, bass pan, possible full band background)
    Partially inspired by System Of A Down and Einsturzende Neubauten, S/D/S is a multi-sectional piece for strings, tuned percussion and voices. S/D/S is a feature for two poets, each have a section to read (solo) with notated sections between these sections. In general you hear the influence of renaissance composers, esp. Gabrielli and his use of antiphonal ensembles, as well as the use of overlapping timbres in the string section for more depth and clarity to the writing.

Sleeping Against Other Warnings (limited only by our dreams) (2002-2003) 25 page score, transposed parts (five woodwinds-flute/soprano sax, flute, alto flute/tenor sax, bass flute/clarinet, bass clarinet; flugelhorn, trombone, bass trombone, violin, two electric guitars, cello, two basses, harp, extended percussion)
    Sleeping... was first conceived as a place to use my large collection of mixing bowls, lobster pots and Tibetan bells as the harmonic framework behind a flute quartet. Things began to change quickly with the addition of strings (violin and cello in addition to two basses), and a bass clarinet added to the woodwinds section. With the addition of Leah Meadow's harp to the two bass interlocking vamp at section B, things began to get very interesting. This composition splits fairly easily down the middle. The first half covers the flute quartet, open solo with harp/bass/bass/drumkit vamp, melody section (violin/flugelhorn) over vamp, and extension section to tag. The second half starts with a open vamp for a poet solo. This vamp section was originally conceived for several instrument that didn't make it. The vamp is very Gamelan inspired in the idea that the highest register instruments play the densest parts. The highest part is covered by the two pipeophone, the next layer being covered by two guitars. The next layer was supposed to be for an instrument i've been building that is a cross between a saron and a vibraphone, covering a lower range than either of these instruments. Unfortunately, this instrument didn't get finished in time, so i substituted a vibraphone pitch shifted down one octave to cover the two parts. Filling out this section is Stephanie Robinson's beautiful pipe organ playing. Following this vamp is a solo section for tenor saxophone in a more dense harmonic situation with a rhythm section of guitar, bass and drumkit. This is followed by a restatement of the earlier melodic theme in a new harmonic context and with most of the woodwind players switching to saxophones as well as the addition of trombone and bass trombone. Finally, a restatement of the flute quartet material reorchestrated to a tuned percussion trio (glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba) serves as an ending coda.

The Owl Of Brittany Road (Specter of the Late Late Night) (2008) 5 page score, transposed parts (brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion)

Track 1 (for RC) (2005) 1 page score, everyone reads from score (open instrumentation)
Track 2 (for AB) (2005) 2 page score, everyone reads from score (open instrumentation)
The tracks series is an ongoing set of compositions conceived for large ensemble. I say conceived because their open instrumentation allows for many different options for ensemble performance. In general, these are shorter pieces with open possibilities for interpretation, often based around repetitious figures and overlapping textures. Track 1 is dedicated to composer/guitarist/trumpeter Rhys Chatham. Based around a central loop played by two like instruments, it deals mostly with rhythmic possibilities of overlapping loops in multiple meters, using three levels of activity - pulse, vamps and section material. Track 2 is dedicated to composer/woodwind player Anthony Braxton. It deals with similar issues as Track 1, without the pulse concept and with cells to be read in any clef.


music written for orchestra

Shards of Memory (for Morton Feldman) (2001) - eight page score for high/low winds, high/low brass, high/low strings and percussion
    My first encounter with Morton Feldman's music was in the form of The King Of Denmark, Feldman's piece for solo percussion. Of course the notation fascinated me, but the underlying ideas were what stuck with me. Several years later I found Howard Slater's amazing evocative of Morton Feldman in the magazine Resonance (vol. 7, no. 1). This caused me to go back, reevaluate Feldman's music, reassess many different ideas and buy a few records I had not heard. All of this at a time when much of my thoughts and playing were on volume, energy and the extremes of development. So this was a chance to step back and disagree with a few things. The piece was originally scored for the quartet Return To One, and was later expanded and extended to its present form. Thank you Morty.


music written for wind ensemble

a search for truth (1998) -for wind ensemble, 16 page score, parts (piccolo, two flutes, two clarinets, two bass clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons, four trumpets, four horns, three tenor trombones, bass trombone, three tubas, digeridoo, percussion - I-5 timpani, crotales; II-(two players) airhose, snare drum, bass drum, marimba, xylophone; III. bamboo wind chimes, bongos/two toms, xylophone; IV-glockenspiel, two triangles, three suspended cymbals, three brake drums; V-vibraphone (with two bows), coilspring, maracas, rachet, sleighbells; VI-two bell plates, small thundersheet, gong, tam tam, marimba; VII-chimes)


music written for traditional big band

Where's Han? (for Han Bennink) (1999) -for large jazz ensemble, 44 page score, parts (two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, three tenor trombones, one bass trombone, four trumpets, guitar, piano, bass, drumset, two percussion (I-bass drum/cymbal, glockenspiel, jug, vibraphone: II-vibraphone, bones, marimba, handclaps)
"I have nothing to say about my music. You better listen to it!" Han Bennink

Last Chance To Say Goodbye (2000) -for large jazz ensemble, 29 page score, parts (soprano/alto saxophone, alto saxophone/flute, tenor saxophone, tenor saxophone/bass clarinet, baritone saxophone/bass clarinet, four trumpets (one dbl. flugelhorn), three tenor trombones, one bass trombone, guitar, piano, electric 5-string bass, drumset, percussion )

Three Castles (2006, this arrangement 2007) - for large jazz ensemble, 30 page score, parts (two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, baritone saxophone, three trumpets, one flugelhorn, three tenor trombones, bass trombone, guitar, acoustic bass, drumkit, vibraphone, percussion)