Mélange of Neumes (2009)
A whimsical twelve-minute piece in four movements for flute choir. It was premiered in New York City by the NFA Professional Flute Choir and has been performed widely in the subsequent years. It was chosen as Best New Published Work in 2010 by the National Flute Association.
A colleague of mine once used the phrase "mélange of neumes" as a perjorative term to describe a particularly poor student composition. It immediately struck me as a funny, yet elegant, turn of phrase, and a potential title for a piece. When the commission came for a flute ensemble piece, the term came to mind again, but this time I followed through with a little more research. "Mélange" is generally understood to mean a hodge-podge of different things mixed up together, and some people know that "neumes" were the medieval predecessors to our modern notation system. Imagine my delight when I discovered that neumes were already classified into various types with exotic names and descriptions. I chose to work with the four types of three-note neumes which are: Scandicus (three notes ascending), Climacus (three notes descending), Torculus (a step up, then back down), and Porrectus (step down, then back up). With these descriptions to guide me, I created a traditional four-movement structure (march, slow, waltz, very fast).