Limited Interactions, 2004
For violoncello and trombone.

This duo was written for two of my good friends in Trossingen, Germany: Mirjam Schwartz (violoncello) and Patrick Crossland (trombone).   It is a series of four short movements, each emphasizing a different relationship between the two instruments.  The piece was largely inspired by a series of dreams I had, in which I heard the sound of a ‘cello/trombone duo playing a micro-tonal, unison line; the two were playing as one and the expressiveness of each instrument was amplified by the other.  The music is very challenging and requires the players to explore both extreme independence and extreme interdependence, sometimes simultaneously.
The first movement is an exploration of a motif that was stuck in my head for a week.


The second movement is an experiment in experimentation.  I imagined that two philosophical beings, working mostly independently (but not opposed to stealing from each other), would explore the idea of “Perfection.”  They would have somehow experienced this Perfection in a similar fashion, but tragically, through their efforts to describe it to themselves or in some way represent the absolutely ineffable, they would actually begin to deteriorate their own images/memories of the Perfection itself… the act of recalling gradually destroys the original.  Eventually, through much experimentation and failure, both beings would have totally forgotten the original and be lost in the darkness of a world fraught with the overall decay of what was once beautiful.  But they wouldn’t remember what that beauty had been to begin with and would therefore be forced to accept the world around them with much frustration and the constant suspicion that something terribly important is missing.

The third movement is also the result of a vivid dream.  It is my musical description of how it might feel to be ejected into space, hurled into an orbit, and then observed by someone at a later date on video, where the tracking wasn’t very good and someone keeps sitting on the remote controller by accident. The closing movement is the result of me having fun with my tape recorder.  It is almost entirely the translation of vocal improvisations based on a development of one of the phrases in the first movement.  Any and all references to avian cartoon characters was entirely unintentional.

This recording was made directly after the premiere by Mirjam and Patrick in Bremen at the Hochschule für Künste in June of 2004.