The Fourth Angel

2006 . . . computer music, optional solo performer (flute or violin) . . . Winston-Salem, North Carolina . . . duration: 11 minutes

The Fourth Angel (2007) was commissioned by North Carolina State University’s Arts Now Series, directed by Dr. Rodney Waschka II, as an artistic contribution to The Ericka Fairchild Symposium on Climate Change. The title refers to one of the “seven last plagues” as they were called in the King James Version of the Bible. In the NRSV translation, Revelation16:8 reads: “The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire; they were scorched by the fierce heat . . .”. (The other six angels and their bowls wrought plagues of painful sores, bloody seas, bloody rivers, darkness, a dried up Euphrates, and finally the seventh angel’s loud voice pronouncing, “It is done!”) Standing in the middle of the sequence, the prophecy of the fourth angel is a dramatic metaphor for global warming.

Though there are some literal sound references, the angel is portrayed more broadly as a metaphor for the forces of nature. Rather than capturing actual samples of nature sounds, the computer-generated sounds are all synthesized, musical objects constructed employing a now-common computing technique called grain-table synthesis. (The choice of machine synthesis over nature sampling suggests a particular belief about the causes of global warming.) These synthetic sound images form a broad range of simple and complex musical rhythms and textures evocative of the natural world: sunlight reflected off water and ice, glaciers calving and cascading into the ocean, solar radiation, and night sounds. Extending the metaphor, sounds echo and swirl in sound space, just as do the dynamic, powerful weather systems that shape our global climate.


music inspired by the William Blake poem                                                           flute, alto sax, trombone, double bass, percussion      duration: 6 minutes

1970 rev 1972      Ann Arbor, Michigan

Microscopic Episodes

1974 . . . picc, 2 fl, 2 ob,, Eb cl, 3 Bb cl, alto cl, bass cl, 2 bsn, contra-bsn, alto sax, tenor sax, bari sax, 4 horns, 4 trp, 3 tbn, euph, tuba, timp, harp, 4 perc (9 minutes

Dedicated to the memory of my father, who spent much of his life watching and counting the little creatures of the mystical microcosm

1. Protozoan picnic

2. Bacterial biogenesis

3. Attack of the antibodies