The Wheel (2014), for (2) percussion, piano, harp, violin, double bass, flute, and trombone.

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The Wheel is a counterpoint in structure. Each instrumental part contains a series of musical events (or cells) that expand gradually in duration.

Meanwhile, the relative time between successive cells steadily decreases, filling in all silences by the end. Because each part contains a different number of cells—the prime numbers from 23 to 53—their overlay results in a complex weaving of possible orchestrations.  

Each cell is fully notated with starting and ending times, as well as relative tempos. In effect, parts seem to be rhythmically free-floating. Though the playing of each cell requires a steady and coherent internal pulse, there is no shared pulse audible or otherwise. The way in which parts lie together in the moment to moment is unspecified and will be different with each performance.  

The material involved here is of a limited set, developed primarily through the use of repetition. Within a cell, repeated material is sometimes placed so as to imply a speeding up or slowing down. Some cells, as a kind of control, contain material repeated in a straightforward, constant way, while others employ patterning of a more...curious nature; strange mash-ups of additive and subtractive processes that are at once internally coherent and outwardly perplexing. 

Throughout, musical ideas keep returning, eventually giving rise to a sense of rotation en masse. Cells comprised of previously heard material function in new ways due to the changing contexts in which they appear. Processes and specific musical materials are often swapped and transformed between parts. Some concurrent cells are designed to interpenetrate, forming conglomerate sonic structures, while others emerge in stark contrast. It is in the mingling of these many streams that the river is formed.


Premiered and recorded on March 8, 2014 in Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills College in Oakland, CA, as part of the 2014 Signal Flow Festival.  

Brett Carson, Piano
Brian Baumbusch, Percussion
Dylan Neely, Violin
Erika Oba, Flute
Peter Sloan, Trombone
Sam Hertz, Bass
Scott Siler, Percussion
Stephan Haluska, Harp