“… unless he senses when to jump” (2011, rev. 2012)

for alto sax, accordion, violin, cello, piano and drumset

[131006] in june 2013 the score of the revised (2012) version was completed. click on the images below to view excerpts of the scores, or download the entire score and parts from the menu on the right. contact the composer to request performance materials.

spalt (the delicious residue of the imperfect)
eleven (effervescent powder)
spur (7 frivilous & somewhat incompatible encounters of the sacred & the profane)

under the quirky title “effervescent powder” oder “spuren des populärmusikalischen in der neuen musik” [“effervescent powder” or “traces of pop musicality in new music”], berlin-based LUX:NM contemporary music ensemble framed a concert in which this work, commissioned by the group, was to be premiered. not having a clue what was meant by the first part of the title, i began composing the work by interpreting the second part of the phrase in various ways, confident the first would eventually also become clear.

in spalt (german for “fissure” or “cleft”), the musicians try (successfully as often as not) to play in time with a metronome played by an assistant at a tempo of 15 bpm (i.e. one click every 4 seconds). the entire performance of each musician is a choreography of sounds, gestures and actions, some of which are not meant or likely to be heard in “normal” playing circumstances. then, eleven different materials or objects chosen by each musician are used to make their instruments sound in as many different ways. spur — a track (recording) or a groove (record), a trace or residue, a path or a lane… the final section is a musical conglomerate (not a collage!) built almost exclusively of citations and stylistic paraphrases from classical, popular, rock and folk music literature — mostly “western” cultural references — played in the character of the source, except where contrary indications appear (e.g., the indication to “swing” debussy’s violin sonata “like a drunk cowboy at the end of harvest”)… richard strauss high-fives john bonham while michael jackson sulks in the corner during a punk-ass bavarian beer garden frenzy. feel free to sing along.

i suppose i never did really come to understand what was meant by “effervescent powder”, nor do i suppose it actually matters.


LUX:NM performing “… unless he senses when to jump” at heilig-kreuz kirche in berlin on 23 november 2012. ruth velten (sax), silke lange (accordion), benedikt bindewald (violin), beate altenburg (cello), malgorzata walentynowicz (piano) and matthias engler (drums); with florian juncker (metronome).
0:35 — spalt (the delicious residue of the imperfect)
4:40 — eleven (effervescent powder)
8:50 — spur (7 frivilous & somewhat incompatible encounters of the sacred & the profane)

violin part for “spalt”

[click to enlarge]

chippewa — without: spalt (violin part)

drum part for “spur”

[click to enlarge]

chippewa — without: spur (drum part)

performance information and history

commissioned by LUX:NM contemporary music ensemble (berlin) with the support of the canada council for the arts. for information on obtaining high-quality printed performance materials, contact the composer.

  • [111103] LUX:NM — premiere: HBC, berlin (germany)
  • [121127] LUX:NM — revised version (2012): heilig-kreuz kirche, berlin (germany)

editions of the score and parts:
2011-11 — premiere version
2012-11 — revised version
2013-06 — corrections and general improvements to materials


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