Instrumentation: Marimba and vibraphone/crotales
Difficulty: Graduate/Professional
Duration: 7’30”

Tesla at Work (2016) is about… well… Tesla at Work.

Nikola Tesla was an inventor, electrical engineer, physicist, and all-around brilliant thinker centuries ahead of his time. Perhaps most well known for his developments of alternating current electric power supply, Tesla is known as one of the most brilliant “mad scientist” figures in all of history. He was also known for his particularly unusual temperament and reclusive demeanor, further adding to the “mad” portion of the science description.

This chaotic duet of percussionists captures the spirit of Tesla in many forms, most notably of which by his name embedded in the main four-note theme of the work: Bb-B-F-A (T, E, and 5 in integer notation, La in fixed-do solfège). I built a full matrix using this tetrachord as my framework, which helped to steer the melodic language of many sections. Also used were rhythmic and melodic permutations based on various mathematical constants, such as the notes of an octatonic scale governed by the calculation of the Euler-Mascheroni Constant into hexadecimal notation over a complex meter determined by π in base-8.

If that last sentence left you with a bit of a confused headache, I imagine I’d feel exactly the same way if I ever had a conversation with Tesla.

Enjoy this brief excerpt. Full recording to come soon!