True Alarm

a response to the insanity of 2016

2016 // 5'
for percussion quartet
composed for Sō Percussion, as part of the Sō Percussion Summer Institute
public reading July 22, 2016, at Princeton University


Program Note:

I developed this piece during the 2016 Sō Percussion Summer Institute, in three open rehearsals with Sō and in many conversations with the ensemble, composition teachers and fellow students at the Institute. My goal was to capture the pulse of a country careening wildly out of control, our heroes dying and villains rising to power. But composing political music is always tricky: how do you say what needs to be said without being prescriptive? The abstract, direct nature of music makes any recognizable political gesture incredibly fraught. In the end, as usual in my work, simple (but not simplistic) expression was the solution.

Many thanks to all who helped me find the heart of this piece, and helped me grapple with the myriad issues implicit in it.


a panoply of cymbals, tin cans, bottles, metal pipes, wood slats, and kick drums.