Creatio ex Materia

Creatio ex Materia is a two-movement composition for chamber ensemble that attempts to uncover unique timbres and rhythmic consequences through the use of contemporary concepts and techniques. It employs nontraditional combinations of instruments and blending of extended techniques to craft innovative sounds, while trying to express abstract principles such as the transfer of energy and the illusion of parts influencing and "learning from" one another. Additionally, this piece pursues the implications of joining aleatoric methods and graphic notation with more stringent approaches like mathematical process and standard notation. Inception Endeavoring to achieve new sounds with traditional instruments, Creatio ex Materia began as an unlikely trio of oboe, cello, and chimes. This odd combination alone would make for a bold musical statement, however there were obvious balance issues from the outset. An experimental session with a set of chimes and various striking implements led to the use of knitting needles in place of traditional mallets throughout most of the piece. In this manner, the inherent power of the chimes was decreased significantly, resulting in a more uniform mix. The initial sketch included a list of possible extended techniques to use, a proposed instrumentation that built upon the original trio, ideas for creating random aspects and graphic notation, and a pitch set from which to build upon, which was based on the decision to use harmonic partials of the pitch E. Also included within the plan was a double-stop idea for the cello, a skeleton of a melody line for the oboe, and specific adjectives that could describe ways to perform certain random rhythms. Once the piece began to conglomerate, choices were made by sticking close to the guidelines in the sketch. (See more in text.)