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System Break

Instrumentation: Two Guitars

Duration: 12'

Video from April 24, 2021

Performers: Ascher Taylor-Schroeder and Nicolas Ross Skarneo

Program Notes: 

     "System Break" emerged from my desire to write for the guitar, an instrument which I had never before explored, coupled with me meeting a couple of capable guitarists who were willing to collaborate with me on a project. The name has a twofold meaning. Firstly, the piece is based on the gradual "breaking down" of systems which are set up at the beginning, and a transformation from order to disorder. The long lines and linear motion seen early in the piece disappear as more pointillistic and fragmented textures take over with the progression of the piece. Harmonically, the piece moves from a clear focus on a single pitch, to a small collection of pitches, to repetition of a tone row, to completely randomly selected pitches, and finally a lack of any defined pitch seen in the last movement. Finally, throughout the piece, the second guitar tunes each string down by a quarter tone, one by one. Due to the small amount of time to perform this detuning, the player will end up out of tune with not only Guitar 1, but also themselves, as not every string will be tuned down exactly 25 cents. It is my hope that all of these effects will collectively give the feeling of a piece that breaks apart as it goes.

     The second meaning of the title references the bane of every composer's existence: formatting. With this piece and with most pieces, it seems that I almost spent more time going through and formatting visual things like spacing and system breaks than I did actually writing the piece itself. Such is the name of the game. It is my hope that this piece is enjoyable for performer and listener alike, system breaks and all!

Completed: December 2020

Performance History: 

April 8, 2021

Ascher Taylor-Schroeder and Nicolas Ross Skarneo, guitars

Student Composers Concert

Comstock Hall, University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)

Recording History: 

April 24, 2021

Ascher Taylor-Schroeder and Nicolas Ross Skarneo, guitars

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