Category Archives: Composition

#Ferguson on UVA Percussion Ensemble CD released on Innova

UVA Percussion Ensemble, Speed of Sound (UVA Music @100)

Speed of Sound celebrates both the Centennial of the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia (UVA) and the Bicentennial of the entire institution. I-Jen Fang, the Director of the UVA Percussion Ensemble, curated this album, showcasing UVA composers and performers. These include faculty, as well as alumni, graduate and undergraduate students, with all of the music created between 2014 and 2017.

Currents (Ravello Records)

Currents investigates the overlaps and gaps between noise and pattern; acoustic and electronic timbre; and live and fixed elements. Currents sounds out the intersections of our current electronic state while referencing its history. The piece was written for Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, a full stage production exploring the life and work of Serbian-American inventor, Nikola Tesla. Currents references Thomas Edison’s inefficient and noisy direct current (DC) electric motor and imagines the brilliant showmanship of Tesla and his revolutionary alternating current (AC) technology.


Distance-X is a digital musical instrument that consists of a hacked Gametrak, Nintendo Wiimote, and customized Kyma software. Music on Distance-X is all human-powered computer music. No tapes. No spacebar playback. Just body movements turned musical mutants.

Tesla: Light, Sound, Color

Tesla: Light, Sound, Color is a 90-minute stage production with live physics demonstrations, digital animation, an original string and electronic musical score, and contemporary choreography. The project is the culmination of a 2016 Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights award.

Hailed as a genius of the industrial age, Serbian immigrant Nikola Tesla continues to captivate the public with his electrical inventions that includes alternating current, contributions to radio transmission, the Tesla coil, as well as 280 other additional patents. The production brings Tesla’s enigmatic story to the stage by combining the science of his inventions with mixed media representations of his complex and tumultuous life. Harmonic Laboratory brings original artwork and broad collaborations together with content by Brad Garner, Jeremy Schropp, Jon Bellona, and John Park. Collaborators include: University of Oregon Physicist Stan Micklavzina, Delgani String Quartet, Eugene Ballet Company dancers, and visual artist Julia Oldham.

I composed six new original works for string octet (four violins, two violas, two cellos) and fixed electronics. One of the works, Currents, includes live Tesla Coils driven by MIDI messages. A second work, Broadcasting, uses FM transmitters to send audio to handheld radios carried by the eight dancers on stage.

DistanceX, Study 1 (TCF4)

Human-powered computer music. No tapes. No spacebar playback. Just body movements turned musical mutants.
DistanceX is a new digital musical instrument I’ve developed for live performance, specifically tailored for Kyma. The input controller consists of a hacked Gametrak, cut in half to leave a single 3D joystick fader, which is then strapped to the right arm. A Nintendo Wiimote provides additional button and accelerometer controls. In Study 1 (TCF4), a single 6.928 second audio sample serves as the material, a mid-range frequency oscillation that is controlled directly by the performer. Both Gametrak and Wiimote control analysis file parameters, and these controls shift slightly depending on varying control states. The performer has full command over each control state. The result is a choreographic relationship between performer and sound, a movement-based sonic composition wound within the boundaries of his own parametric kinesphere.

The performance was recorded at Virginia Tech on May 2, 2017. Thank you to Tanner Upthegrove for running sound and Charles Nichols for organizing the concert.

Precipitation 3

Precipitation 3 is one of a series of musical compositions written for 26 clock chimes as part of the sound art installation, Aqua•litative. With my Precipitation series, I treat the electromechanical structure as musical instrument, navigating through sound with the syntactical construction of code. Compositions played by the sculpture evoke precipitation data of California weather stations by cycling through bits of its data. These cycles create emergent sonic patterns in a continuously evolving play between density and rhythm. Movement flows as collapsing waves, additively striking a cybernetic balance between natural order and mechanic motion.

Aqua•litative is a kinetic installation that renders multiple data sets of California’s water history into a physical experience. The work correlates natural factors contributing to California’s water shortages, outlining the serpentine narrative of water through the translation of data into kinetic movement and acoustic sound.


Listen, for two performers, is about listening, or rather, not listening. The decay of the sound tracks the decay of the physical body– the vocal cords are shredded alongside the desire to be heard.

I wrote the piece thinking about the physical limits of the body and the mistranslation of communication. Given the current political climate, I may have been channeling more than just the idea of (not) listening.