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Starting in 1998, and continuing on and off for the next few years, I began making my droneworks using Barry Vercoe’s Csound. A Bet on Transcendence Favors the House was the first and it exists in a16-minute version, as well as the full 42-minute version heard here. Both were performed in many iterations during the next couple of years. These included a large ensemble version, numerous small ensembles (including one for three pedal steel players), solo saxophone, and solo guitar/MIDI controller by me. As with all the pieces I composed in this vein, playing with the drone(s) means improvising through techniques that I was beginning, by this time, to codify into a concept I refer to as “Gestural Improvisation”. A strong tenet of GI is that the improvisor exists to modulate the drone; the drone is not there to serve as a support background for the player. One could think of it as a play in which the scenery is the star and the actors exist only to cast modulating shadows against it. Whether it’s me or others attempting to play my music, the most uninteresting and least effective thing one can do is to foreground oneself too much and be standing there naked merely making sounds for all to hear. Formally speaking, the architecture of ABoTFtH consists of thirteen drone paths that gliss and steady-state through a variety of extended chordal structures all related to a constant A below middle C that is the gravitational anchor of the work. Each drone path also has a very specific and unique overtone scheme that reinforces the consonance throughout.

The lighting changes seen in this version were precisely timed to change with each of the five sections.


Charles Curtis – cello

Bob Hoffnar – pedal steel guitar

Michael Schumacher – synthesizer

David Simons – percussion

David First - guitar