Instrumental/Vocal Music

 "My recent acoustic music (instrumental, vocal, and choral) is a place where I've explored questions about and possibilities for both the kinds of sounds I use as well as the way I arrange them in relation to each other. I'm interested in the ways we perceive and conceptualize the musics we listen to, and I'm also interested in the socio-cultural associations we make with those sounds. I'm interested in the conversations we create in our music, and so my instrumental works may position culturally familiar and conventional sounds alongside more experimental sounds!"

The text was written in late February of 2020, at a time when my academic course load was particularly intense. The act of writing it was a kind of prayer, a moment of intimacy with God in the pursuit of peace. I could never have expected what March of 2020 would bring to me, to us, and the challenges that lay ahead. The music was written in late 2020, and is meant as something of an illustration of the disorientation I felt over the course of that year, and of the thirst for inner peace which so many of us have known too well since.

 "Hello; we interrupt your daily digest of cat videos and meme compilations to bring you something only somewhat different. Is it noise? Is it pop? Is it rock? Is it theater? Who knows? Grab your favorite snack and your favorite drink because it's time to play some music."

Music for Soprano and Electric Guitar with Live Electronics is a quasi-chaotic mashup of rock and metal guitar, noise and granular synthesis, classical and experimental vocal techniques, theater, and meme humor. It is a reflection of the multiplicities I experience from my position in contemporary culture. It's also one of the first pieces where I've let my sense of humor out to play. I hope it tickles you to listen to as much as it tickled me to put it together!

Music by Stephan Carlson, with the creative support of Jesse Langen and Amanda DeBoer. Featuring: Amanda DeBoer, vocals and other shenanigans; Jesse Langen, guitar and other shenanigans; Stephan Carlson, live electronics and other shenanigans.

I wrote Solo, for Bassoon while confined to my 130 square ft. studio apartment in Iowa City, starting in late April and completing it in mid-July of 2020. I spent most of that time torn between an anxiously dreaded and polyvalent need to produce, and a grudging resignation to an exhaustion-dictated stillness. In writing this piece, I sought to capture these two forces as they worked upon my mind and body.


Technically speaking, this piece was not composed with particular sounds as its starting elements. Instead, I dug deeply into the mechanics of playing the instrument, and chose particular configurations and motions of the hands and fingers as the focal materials of the work. There are multiple physical processes at play, which collide with and actually warp each other over time until they are fused into one blur of chaos. This piece is actually something of a choreography of motions, each with their own aims, that elide with and frustrate each other. They are all underscored by, suffocated with, and ultimately collapse into stillness.

Performance by Keegan Hockett

"Chrysopoeia, written in 2019, is my first piece for string quartet. It's not a 'string quartet' proper, as it doesn't conform to the stylistic idioms of the genre! (You can learn more about the specifics of how the piece works back on the home page). 

During my first semester at the University of Iowa I had the opportunity to compose a piece for string quartet, which would later be read by the masterful and renowned JACK Quartet. Most of my colleagues in the composition studio also submitted pieces for this reading session! Later in the spring, a handful of these pieces were selected to be featured in a concert... and to my great surprise, I was honored to find my first piece for string quartet among these selected pieces! Watch the performance in the video on the right!"     

"The Becoming, written in 2018,  is something of a followup on a piece for 4-hands piano I created in my first year at Northern Illinois University. At that time, I was growing frustrated with the way I was approaching attempts to create 'modern sounding music'. On one hand I was trying to expand my proverbial tool-box, but on the other I felt like I was just feeling around in the dark. I wanted to begin to make some more conscious choices and come to clearer understandings of what kinds of sounds I was interested in.


The Becoming is a followup to the first piece written toward that effort. I called both of them 'transubstantiations' because I was interested using the transformation of materials over time as a possible scheme for the unfolding of events in a piece of music."