Ancient Caverns

Instrumentation: piano and live electronics

View Score



Performance History: This work was premiered at the New Jersey Digital Audio Concert (NJDAC) on October 16, 2016 at the Richard H. Shindell Choral Hall in New Brunswick, NJ. A second performance occurred at New York University’s Interactive Arts Performance Series, at the Frederick Loewe Theatre in New York, NY on  October 16, 2017. Both performances featured the composer at the piano.

Duration: 7 minutes

Performance Note: The work revolves around an automated program written in Max whose sequence is generally in four parts. The first part randomly processes the sound of the piano. The second part records short time-periods of the piano performance. The recording then undergoes various forms of processing and is played back at twice the speed during the performance. The third aspect is a fixed media component that plays as an accompaniment to the piano and processed sounds. The final part consists of a synthesizer built within Max that is triggered at periodic intervals towards the end of the work. Various parameters of the synthesizer are randomly generated so that each occurrence of the synthetic element has its own individual character each time it plays. All four of these parts overlap throughout the duration of the piece.

The piano part is largely improvised. Mallets are to be used for playing inside the piano, by striking the soundboard. Soft timpani mallets are recommended. The keyboard is also used to generate material. The goal of the improvisation is to create a dialogue between the electronics and acoustic elements. This score is only a guide; the performer is free to either follow it or completely invent their own part.

Program Note: Ancient Caverns is a meditation on the timeless quality of large underground spaces of the natural world and the use of technology to express impressions of their immutable grandeur. The structure of the work is derived from the evolution and movement of several ‘sound worlds.’ Some of these sound worlds have a brooding mystery to them, while others express themselves through playful of dances of light.