Princeton University, Department of Music, Composition Portfolio
I am an American audio/visual artist and composer of contemporary classical music based in New York City. My music centers around a compositional practice called antenati—a name which means “the ancestors” in Italian and refers to the emergence of musical structures from a canon of tension-resolution patterns performed by the composer.
My visual work often focuses on obsolete technology such as oscilloscopes, video synthesizers and 1980s game consoles, and together with my music, challenges audiences’ bodily engagement with their perceptions of sound and light.
I am the co-founder of the DUMBO recording studio The Honey Jar and have worked with artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Steve Reich, Priit Parn and Pauline Oliveros creating audio recordings, works on film, public installations and performances worldwide.
In 2019, I was profiled on the cover of Tape Op Magazine (issue #133) for my mixing and production on David Lang's Symphony for Broken Instruments and my work has most recently been presented at BlackHole (Los Angeles) and Video Art Festival Turku (Turku, Finland).
Below is a selection of three compositions I am submitting for my application to the Graduate Program at Princeton University complete with audio recordings and scores, all composed in 2023. Since the Digital Portfolio instructions allow, I have also included a fourth recording, a movement from Superstructures—the first antenati composition, co-written with Gideon Crevoshay—in case more context for the compositional practice is desired.
The accompanying artworks are stills from video works created with a Vectrex game console being driven by modular synthesizers. They are part of a series I completed in 2021 called Physical Math.
Concerto For Sine Wave and Orchestra
Mvt. 4 (A Life: Years 37-48)
Movement 4 from Concerto For Sine Wave and Orchestra is the first recording from Antenati Workshop, a studio project created as a destination for my antenati compositions. It was recorded over 11 days in November 2023 at the Honey Jar in Brooklyn and features John Altiere, Alex Asher, Leah Asher, Meaghan Burke, David Cossin, Amy Garapic, Isabel Lepanto Gleicher, Rebekah Heller, Mike Irwin, Katie Scheele, Pat Swaboda, Emmalie Tello and Jeremy Thal.
The artwork is Physical Math 901663 (Vectrex, LZX and A-100), 2021
The idea for this piece came to me when a friend sent me a link to Ruth Anderson’s Resolutions. In it, a square wave descends over the course of 17 minutes and I loved the effect of slow modulation on my conscious state. I thought to use a sine wave—which would blend well with acoustic instruments—and try to harmonically capture the consonant parts of the oscillation while atonally framing the dissonant parts in such a way as to tell some kind of musical story.
It occurred to me to start the descent at C8 and cover the range of the piano and soon I was imagining this tiny flux of gradually slowing energy as representing the course of a human life span. A numerical schemata formed. Each note would represent a year. The place where the sine wave crosses orchestral pitch would represent the apogee of the sun’s arc and the quarter-tones, its nadir. In this manner, we follow the course of a person’s existence as they oscillate between the solstices, going in and out of resonance with their material surroundings.
Just as human meaning must be constantly remade in order to accommodate the continuous flow of matter and energy, so, the traditionally tuned orchestra evolves around this inexorable flux. Striving to interpret. Striving to make it still and meaningfully frame it.
The entire work is divided into 8 movements, one for each octave. Movement 4 (years 37 - 48) describes the peak achievements, crushing losses and existential ennui of mid-life, culminating in a glimpse of the peace and quiet that will come to characterize later movements.
Five Antenati Études
Étude No. 1 for Non Encompassing Pairs
Étude No. 2 from Arbaces
Étude No. 3 for Non Encompassing Pairs
Étude No. 4 from Glaucus
Étude No. 5 from The Wildcat
When antenati is practiced in the spiral mode, a monophonic passage results which may be duplicated, offset and recombined to produce a three-voice canon. These five études were taken from spirals created in 2023, some of the first ever produced.
Spirals are defined by their systems which are like scores for the practice. The system for Non Encompassing Pairs was the first employed to create controlled harmonic motion. It involves paired pentatonic scales, which when combined, elide one diatonic tone. Moving through these paired scales systematically results in color changes based upon which scale step is not present.
Glaucus and Arbaces are characters from a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called The Last Days of Pompeii. Their respective systems are said to be bi-tonal because each voice has access to only two pitch-classes per pitch-cycle. Arbaces is characterized by octatonic relationships whereas Glaucus employs close intervals which gradually move through the circle of fifths.
The Wildcat is a spiral named for a lynx I encountered while on residency at The Cedar Grove in West Glover, Vermont. The system is diatonic, based partially on superimposed arpeggios.
Derived from these four spiral systems, the Five Antenati Études are scored for piano from the original three voice canon.
The recordings were made over the course of 2023, performed by Devin Greenwood at the Honey Jar in Brooklyn, NY and the artwork is Physical Math 338269 (Vectrex, LZX and A-100), 2021
For String Quintet
Antenati often produces a monophonic passage called a spiral which may be duplicated, offset and recombined to produce a spiral canon. This string quintet was composed from an antenati spiral called The Wildcat, created while I was on a residency at The Cedar Grove in West Glover, Vermont. During a walk, I encountered a wild lynx and mused on the colloquial term wildcat—seemingly more common when I was young and when wild felids were yet more numerous in The United States. Always a fascination of mine, I felt the American wildcat’s presence during the course of the residency warranted acknowledgment and named this spiral after her.
The Wildcat for String Quintet was taken from the first hour of The Wildcat spiral at approximately 47 minutes and scored for string quintet with two cellos. It is 6 minutes long and was performed by The Rhythm Method and recorded on November 15, 2023 at Reservoir Studios in New York City.
The artwork is Physical Math 791735 (Vectrex, LZX and A-100), 2021
Superstructures: Nine Sense Variations
for Voice and A-100 Mvt. 4
This is movement 4 of Superstructures—the first antenati composition, originally recorded in November of 2018 at The Honey Jar in Brooklyn, New York. Additional composition took place in August and October of 2021 and the piece was premiered at BlackHole Los Angeles on November 20th of that year.
From the opening's program: "These nine movements were developed over three years by composers Gideon Crevoshay and Devin Greenwood. The work is the result of a compositional practice the two call antenati—a name which means "the ancestors" in Italian and refers to the emergence of musical structures from a canon of tension-resolution patterns performed in real-time by Crevoshay using his free vocal technique. The result is a kind of collective behavior displaying intelligence and form beyond the intention of the composers, evolving continually to the tempo of the breath for 54 minutes."
The Artwork is Physical Math 76239 (Vectrex, LZX and A-100), 2021