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LA Composers Project 2013: John Eagle

johnwp1-e1304190327686Next in line to answer some questions about his piece featured on What’s Next? Ensemble‘s fifth annual Los Angeles Composers Project is John Eagle. Let’s do this thing.

The name of your piece being performed at LACP 2013 is:

Asperges Me 

Tell us about it.

Asperges Me is based on the Latin antiphon of the same name, which is a part of the Roman Catholic Mass. Taken from Psalm 51, my piece uses the first two lines, “Thou shalt purge me, with hyssop and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” I wrote the piece following the birth of my nephew (the piece is dedicated to his parents) while thinking about the transformative possibilities that lie dormant in every relationship. One can view the piece as a kind of deconstruction of the chant. The melody itself has a beautiful rise and fall, invoking a sense of striving as it ascends and release as it falls and returns to the tonic. I took the melody and broke it down into 1-3 note fragments which are played in each voice and harmonized according to a range of overtone ratios. I prefer to look at the piece as a kind of translation, or opening-up. Each voice plays every part of the entire melody, but each with its own harmonization. As a collective, the ensemble plays the entire set of ratios and the audience gets to hear each note of the melody cast in a slightly different way, giving the piece a sense of multi-dimensionality. Duration, dynamics, and even the choice of one instrument are decided upon by the players, granting a wide range of expressive potential and making each performance specific to the ensemble.

Favorite X : Y

I’m gonna go with favorite childhood breakfast cereal: peanut butter Captain Crunch.

How about a recording?
While I do have a live recording of Asperges Me, I’d prefer to share a better quality recording of a recent piece which was composed at the same time as Asperges Me. The piece is rhythm color #2—resembling, suggesting. It was premiered by New Century Players in November 2012. The piece was constructed according to a similar process as the one in Asperges Me, organizing harmonies according to a limited range of overtone ratios which translate and shift over time.

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