Towers (2015)

Program Notes

Often in compositions I draw on extra-musical ideas in order to guide my compositional decisions beyond the musical materials. With this in mind, the concept of a tower informed nearly all facets of this work. One is literal, in that the piece is constructed in a manner that all rhythmic and harmonic components fit together into a pre-designed, grid-like plan, much like how a blueprint would be utilized in architectural design. Another aspect is more figurative, encapsulating the idea of what a tower is: a tall structure meant for defense, protection, as well as a structure that can be seen from afar, and a place where, once at the top, one can see far.


This idea of viewing towers from afar, as if on the horizon, bookends the work. Vertical harmonic structures at the very beginning fade into the distance as time passes, and return in a more angular fashion at the end, as if finally arriving and discovering that these towers are not what they appeared to be from a distance. Throughout the work, the more vertical music dissolves and rebuilds itself into something different, and obscures the underlying grid in the process.


Towers, composed in 2015, represents my ongoing interest in creating compositional frameworks that provide an underlying structure throughout the course of a work. This provides an objective approach from the beginning of the compositional process, which then allows me to make subjective changes as the music is composed. I see this as comparable to the way a physical structure is designed on paper, constructed physically, and then changed based on an owner’s particular aesthetic taste.