Mamase Mamasa Mamarimba

This piece, for 4 percussionists on 2 marimbas, gets musical layers grooving, inspired by the technique of sampling and by the idea of the composer as DJ. Its rhythmic foundation is found in “Don’t Stop the Music,” which sampled the line “mamase mamasa mamakusa” from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna be Starin’ Something,” which originated in Manu Dibango’s 1973 “Soul Makossa.” A rhythmic ostinato begins in the lower register of Marimba 1. Each player is given a musical line to state, then these lines are layered and gradually saturated with sixteenth-notes. Once this process has run its course, the piece spins itself out.

Hollywood & Sunset

An excerpt from an orchestral reading from my days at UCLA, evoking moods from an imagined film score.

String Trio

The opening violin and cello lines mirror each other; from these, the viola emerges. Passages in the piece sound as if the strings are trapped in a whirling dance. The opening lines echo throughout. The ending reaches a burst of energy that opens outward, using the opening motive in reverse.

Kimberly Empeno, Violin
Arial Walden, Viola
Alisha Bauer, Cello

The Green Dream

Written in 2003 for clarinet and piano, this piece takes its melody on a journey where repetition and layering represent memory and dreams.

Johanna Hyun, Clarinet
Steven Homestead, Piano

The Banyan Tree

This piece started from a graph filled with colors, each representing an instrument. The vertical axis represented chromatic pitch; the horizontal axis represented time at the eighth note level. From that graph, I notated the music, taking fragments to form the score and expand with an ear toward representing a banyan tree (having lived near one for a number of years in Florida). Imagery of this tree guided the creation of the rest of the piece. The four sections are “Aerial Roots,” “Light Through the Canopy,” “Choke Roots,” and “Fading Light and Growing Leaves.”

Haley Schwalbe, Flute
Andrew Gresham, Oboe
Eleanor Weigert, Clarinet
Brittany Seits, Bassoon

Standing on the Outside Looking In

With soaring and yearning melodies, this piece expresses ideas centered on togetherness, separation, and other ideas the title suggests. It calls on the clarinet and violin to play characters. It opens as the piano creates sonic space into which the clarinet’s sound grows. The intervals of the octave and ninth help to form the main theme, one filled with a sense of longing, of yearning. The violin enters quietly, not yet capable of having its own voice. As the clarinet’s melodic line dies away, the piece enters a period of transition that introduces a more temporal world. The violin and clarinet are then able to react to one another in more direct ways and the violin becomes capable of singing with the clarinet. After a dramatic section that builds toward the end, the piano moves beyond embodying time and space; it more directly interacts with other instruments.

Taka Koike, Violin
Susana Volente, Clarinet
Pamela Younger, Piano

Flying Makes the Ocean Deeper

This neo-impressionist piece uses the concept of sound existing in space-time as inspiration for its meterless and measureless music. It is an exploration of how sound exists in physical space; how sound lingers in our multi-dimensional world. The music is not just in the notes as they are being played but also in the lingering resonance after the instruments have stopped playing.

Darryl Black, Violin
Jessica Cheng, Piano

Wagon Wheel Parts: I & II

This piece takes inspiration from the “American” sound of the mid-Twentieth Century. The slow pace of Part I is later balanced by the vitality of Part II, influenced by motion while driving or running. The main theme (played by the flutes) lent itself to be paired with musical quotation. The original melody and the quoted material are primarily structured through a process of layering in the second section, where the additional use of imitation creates an element of playfulness. The piece closes in a manner similar to its opening, yet instead of just one theme being played, each main theme is stated simultaneously.

Matt Braun, Haley Schwalbe: Flutes;
Eleanor Weigert, Clarinet;
Gabe Stevens, Piano;
Elba Paloma Garcia, Violin;
Ross Casey, Viola;
Ben Coyte, Cello;
Glenn Llorente, Conductor

© Steven Homestead. All rights reserved.