It shakes my teeth for 2 electric guitars and 3 percussion (2014)

Duration c. 35 minutes Comissioned by guitarists Derek Johnson and Taylor Levine, Percussion Group Cincinnati and Mantra Percussion. Premiered by Derek Johnson, Taylor Levine and Percussion Group Cincinnati, January 29, 2014, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.

This work is currently under revision, though still performable. Perusal copy of the revised score to date available upon request.

Program Notes

“As loud as hell, a ringing bell.
Behind my smile, it shakes my teeth.”

These lyrics, taken from the song “I Bleed” by the seminal alt-rock band The Pixies, served as an important springboard for It Shakes My Teeth, a large-scale work for two electric guitars and three percussion. I liked the image of a sort of dirty-sounding, aggressive bell, and found that it resonated with the sense of “clangor” that appears in much of my own music.

The work is composed of five movements that are associated with either bell motifs (movements I, III and V) or rhythmic propulsion (movements II and IV). Movements I, III and V each bear the title “Klang” (Klang, Klang Chorale, Klang Coda), a German word I remember my former teacher George Crumb often using to describe music that possesses deeply-felt resonance. In the “Drive” of movements II and IV (Drive, Overdrive), the music climbs inexorably upwards, often pitting varying rhythmic cycles of 3, 5 and 7 beats against one another, ultimately against the backdrop of a haze of feedback.

It Shakes My Teeth was composed for and premiered by Derek Johnson, Taylor Levine and Percussion Group Cincinnati in January of 2014.