Commissioned by Gabrielle Chou.

Premiered at the Graduate Center, CUNY on April 13th, 2023

The entire piece:

Performed by Gabrielle Chou, Jingrui Liu, Dominic Law, and Baron Fenwick.

Just A Pile of Notes:

Performed by Stephen Tamas, Hayden Mesnick, Brandon Gouin, Marc Perez, Lexi Eubanks, & Ian Jones

This piece consists of two “musical games” that focus on strategic decision making. This piece turns simple questions such as “what note should I add to the pile?” or “what instrument should I take from the pile?” into complex decisions: there are risks to be taken, advantages to be gained, and mistakes to be made. For me, that is one of the most fun things about participating in and watching games like this: getting to see what decisions people make, and what strategies they come up with. You become invested in and connected to the performance in a powerful way.

A Pile of Notes is a competitive game in which all the musicians compete over control of a pile of notes displayed on the screen. Each musician has a conflicting goal (they are trying to pull the pile to their own personal key center), and they must add and remove notes in order to achieve this goal. Throughout the whole game, the musicians can only play notes from the pile on screen, which is also played by an electronic backing pad. The result of this is that we hear a real musical tug-of-war between the key centers of each player as they fight over control of the pitch collection.

A Pile of Instruments is a game where players try to play through a full page of music. If they get to the end, they finish the game. However, a referee triggers commands for the musicians that they must realize to the best of their ability. These commands range from technical musical instructions that may or may not be possible on their instrument to vague expressive indications. This referee then judges the players on how well they were able to realize the given command, and points at the person who they believe was the worst at it. That person must then switch to a new instrument from a central pile, and begin from the top of the page once more.

For additional information, questions, or parts requests, contact Aidan.