Transmission (2011, rev. 2015) 7'


written for The Ohio State University Symphony Orchestra; Marshall Haddock


>score excerpt

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Program Notes

In Transmission, I attempt to transform the orchestra into a transistor radio. At the outset of the compositional process, I spent a lot of time improvising with radios, cataloguing their multifarious sonic properties: from serene pools of static, to turbulent surges of distant broadcasts. These noise fields are then filtered through the orchestral palette, often requiring musicians to navigate the extremes of their instruments. The title Transmission refers not only to radio signals, but also the act of transmitting the behaviors of the radio through the orchestra.

The piece opens with a tumbling dialogue of radio static and distorted orchestral instruments that accumulate and splinter, eventually collapsing into a serene wash of shimmering high frequencies. After an interjection of erratic glissandi, the work's initial trajectory - chaos giving way to stasis - resurfaces in a magnified form. This section opens with a dense polyphonic texture of violent gestures and saturated color; distinct layers bleed in and out of relief, like a radio signal struggling to come into focus. Layers are gradually stripped away until the sonic landscape is nothing more than the faint swelling of static and white noise.

Performance History

1.29.16 | Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute | Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota Orchestra; Osmo Vanska

World Premiere
11.06.03 | The Ohio State University | Columbus, OH
The Ohio State University Symphony Orchestra; Marshall Haddock