SKU: 200001 Category: Tags: ,


instrumentation: soprano saxophone
date: 2000
duration: 8’30
details: 14 pages, including performance instructions; A3 landscape

Programme Note

asphyxia is an extension of my early experiments with the polyphonicization of the various components of performative, physical action involved in producing sound in/on an instrument (in this case the two primary modes of wind playing: fingers (pitch) and mouth (breath, tonguing, dynamics, articulation, inflection)). The work is notated on a minimum of two rhythmically independent staves, organized such that the final resulting sounds of the piece are not in fact denoted in the score as such but instead arise as “aural byproducts” of the interaction of the two decoupled layers. As a result of this separation, several of the notated elements in the score are only loosely audible, some as near-silent breathing through the instrument, others as fingered pitches without air flow. asphyxia is, then, as much a physical, visual work as it is an sonic one-in fact, much of the counterpoint in the piece is not predominately aural but rather is organized to produce a kind of “visual counterpoint” between the actions of the individual performative layers.

The level of destabilization and fragmentation is intentionally high, not only for the performer in his/her consistent questioning and relearning of performance technique and the unstable relationship between the notation (which tends to be so highly detailed as to disrupt a sense of hierarchy between musical parameters) and the sounding results, but also for the listener, for whom modes of narrative (or even statistical, distributive, or sectional) listening no longer suffice. Many of the constructive procedures employed arise from relatively small, distinctive cyclic structures of unequal lengths-the interaction of these micro-structures is quite unpredictable, with individual strata maintaining focused, linear paths (on any number of parametric levels). The musical surface is, therefore, a constant reconciliation of local, often contradictory trajectories and processes.

asphyxia is dedicated in friendship to Susan Fancher.


The work has been recorded for NEOS and New Focus Records.


Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone (excerpt)


Harry Fausing Smith – soprano saxophone

Harry Fausing Smith, saxophone (The House of Bedlam). International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK. June 17, 2015.

Harry Fausing Smith, saxophone. Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. May 11, 2015.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. Spectrum, NYC. May 3, 2015.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. Palácio da Justiça, Manaus, Brazil. September 2, 2014.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. West Virginia University. April 16, 2014.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. Boston Conservatory. March 26, 2014.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. Constellation, Chicago. September 22, 2013.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. SALT Festival, Victoria, BC, Canada. June 1, 2013.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. University of Huddersfield. March 11, 2013.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone. The Tank, New York, NY. May 20, 2010.

Ryan Muncy, soprano saxophone. Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA.  April 24, 2010.

Ryan Muncy, soprano saxophone. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.  July 15, 2009.

Ryan Muncy, soprano saxophone.  XV World Saxophone Congress, Bangkok, Thailand.  July 9, 2009.

dal niente (Ryan Muncy, soprano saxophone), The Spot, Chicago, Illinois.  April 18, 2009.

ELISION Ensemble Portrait Concert. ABC Ferry Road Studios, Brisbane, Australia. July 27, 2008. Broadcast on ABC Classic FM. Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone

ELISION (Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone).  Government House, Sydney, Australia. July 13, 2008.

William Street, soprano saxophone.  Convocation Hall, University of Alberta.  Edmonton, Canada.  February 29, 2008.

ELISION (Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone).  Iwaki Auditorium, Australian Broadcasting Center, Melbourne, Australia.  May 26, 2007.  Broadcast live on ABC Classic FM (Australia). 

175 East (Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone).  Hopetoun Alpha, Auckland, New Zealand.  May 6, 2007.

175 East (Richard Haynes, soprano saxophone).  St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand.  May 4, 2007.

Susan Fancher, soprano saxophone.  University at Buffalo Faculty Recital Series, April 2000.