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Duration - 16:00

Instrumentation - Wind quintet

I. Anodyne? 

II. Anodyne? 

III. Anodyne? 

IV. etc and


What does it mean to “write what you love”? As much as I would like the “success” of my work to be a purely personal measurement—how well my execution matches my intention, perhaps—inevitably wrapped up in what anybody wants are combinations of things like psychological idiosyncrasies, diverse aesthetic influences, performance circumstances, or practical concerns (acquiring grant funding, admittance to educational programs, etc) that impart some weight to other metrics that go beyond the composer’s expressive preferences. “Love” almost always has to make room. Further, in the eclectic American contemporary music landscape where all young composers are told that their great task is to develop an “original voice”, it is very easy to experience crises of authenticity when what one loves to write—in other words, style—is essentially imparted on them from somewhere else.

The situation of a lack of compositional dogma from on high is ultimately a fortunate one, but one that can—at least in my case—leave the composer adrift on the sea of style, apt to be tossed and turned by the current formed by these conditions. This often leaves me feeling like my primarily compositional task is to resolve stylistic deficiencies; if the trajectory of a work carries it towards a particular style, then it is all too easy for everything about the work to be interpreted through the lens of that style. Any original elements start to look like stylistic “inaccuracies”, liable to be abandoned for fear of a perceived poorly-crafted result.

Any style is fair game, but originality is encouraged, but your work will be inevitably judged by the metric of its closest neighbor. Confusing! Then, there’s the added stigma of complexity which burdens the situation further with false questions of intellectual adequacy. None of this is anybody’s fault and it is unclear that anything should be done about it, but “writing what you love” may very well be an unhelpful (or even harmful!) reduction of broader issues of style that may confront composers—like myself—who have a propensity toward self-consciousness and a personal/professional need to be validated.


“Anodyne” is an attempt to subvert style by treating it as a parameter. The first three movements rewrite the same piece in three sincerely attempted stylistic contexts; the piece itself hides in their intersections and disjunctions. The final movement smashes the others together via a series of “switch” chords that trigger stylistic mutations, around which an effort is ultimately made to step outside of style altogether.

Flute: Phoebe Rawn

Oboe: Joseph Jordan

Clarinet: Anju Aoto

Horn: Andrew Arloro

Bassoon: Caleb Hutchings

Conductor: Tengku Irfan

I. Anodyne? - 0:00

II. Anodyne? - 3:00

III. Anodyne? - 7:15

IV. etc and - 9:46

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