I have had the pleasure of living in the Hamilton Heights area of Harlem since 2010. The neighborhood itself is a vibrant and diverse mix of both people and architectural style. With a population of more than 70000, comprised primarily of people of African-American and Dominican origins, Hamilton Heights is a constant collision of cultures and ethnicities. Identity markers are often announced through music, played at extreme volumes. On my street, a dense block of six-storey apartment houses, the north side is predominantly African-American, with Hip-Hop often projected loudly, aimed across the street from a speaker placed on a fire-escape. On the south side, the Dominican residents play Bachata music at equally loud volume, but in a more spatially diffuse manner, enveloping the block with the fast arpeggiations of the electric steel string guitar and lyrical vocals. 

After all these years of (involuntary) listening, I have come to know these musics with a high degree of familiarity. And some times, the only way to deal with unwanted noise or music is to simply make it a part of your own. It just so happened that as I was writing HyperWarp, I had been preoccupied with notions of musical contrast as bearers of musical form. Most contemporary music (and most western music in general) contrasts fast and loud sections with slow and quiet ones. It follows Newton’s third law, in a certain way. How could contrast between sections be achieved, however, without adhering to this aged principle? Is it possible to create a sense of contrast and division with the use of semiotics, rather than intensities?

PREMIERE April 12, 2014. Either/OR, Richard Carrick, conductor
LOCATION The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York City
PERSONNEL Flute, B-flat clarinet, Contrabassoon, Horn in F, Contrabass trombone, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Accordion (keyboard), 2 Violins, Violoncello and 2 Doublebasses.