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Spark is a metaphor for fascination, intrigue and wonder. Similar to neurons, a spark is electrically excitable; it processes and transmits information/ideas through signals. Signals occur via synapses, or connections through networks. For Spark, I designed the structure from the sound and timbre, working specifically with the materials I know to be characteristic of the instrument and performer(s).  The primary musical material is derived from the manner in which sound is produced on the trombone, through fundamental wavelength – overtones and partials.   The piano functions as a resonator.  Sound and form have always been connected in my work, but I consciously chose to start with sound first in Spark, then move into form, proceeding forward in dialogue with one another. The sections are intended to reflect a shifting perspective, from smoldering, flashing, explosive, even subdued. Each section connects to a larger map of embedded structures.

I recently discovered a quote by Nabakov that resonated with me in relation to the ideas that inspired this piece.“The more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes.” In particular, the writer talks about how memories can function as illusions, and those from childhood generally conjure more fondness than more recent memories. As it relates to art, memory is a tool.  Sparks can muster obsessively or passively, implicitly or explicitly. They can come on episodically, or topographically, but most generally, sparks spur and incite.

Spark was premiered by JoDee Davis, Emily Trapp and Trevor Thornton on October 7, 2015 at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Duration: 7 minutes.