Duration15 minutes

Instrumentation: clarinet (+bcl), 2 percussion, piano

Program note:

Solicited by the Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble, the work began as a study in collaboration with Zeitgeist at their annual Composer Workshop.

Angles of Repose draws the inspiration for its title from Wallace Stegner's eponymously named novel about an itinerant mining engineer and his family as they struggle to prosper in the American West, Angle of Repose. In Stegner's work, the title refers simultaneously to the angle at which granular materials achieve stability on a slope (picture the angle at which rocks no longer slide off a mountain), and the forces of fortune and consequence that ultimately shape the lives of its protagonists. I have become increasingly interested in the way that physical forces create analogues for social, emotional, interpersonal, and even musical ones. While the musical work at hand does not pictorially narrate the physical phenomenon, it aspires to translate the interplay of these forces into musical ones.

The first movement, "Angle of Displacement," contrasts moments of syncopation and rhythmic surprise with metric predictability--the net unpredictability being amplified in moments of rhythmic stasis.

The second movement, "Forlorn Angles," is entirely devoid of the kind of rhythmic 'angularity' found in the first movement. It instead labors toward unpredictability as the players are often left to improvise their parts, all the while exploring more obscure instrumental colors.

Finally, "Angle of Acceleration" is a study in speed and changing tempi. It earns its title from the final push of inertia in the movement, ultimately resulting in a kind of self-destruction.

Concert Premiere: March and April 2009 by the Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble. Performances took place at Z-Studios in St. Paul, MN, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


Published by Potenza Music