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Work Samples

Excerpt from Upbraid the Permitting Stars

Generative ambient music produced bedside during a time of serious injury and the long process of healing.

Bedlam Brass - Goes on any Finger

This video was created in the early summer of 2020, when, due to the pandemic, the band could no longer play together and felt increasingly called to continue our collaboration however possible. Each member recorded ourselves in isolation, and I stitched together the parts and mixed them in ProTools, accounting as best I could for the fact that most of us recorded ourselves on our phones. In this song, I play the alto horn, an antiquated British marching instrument with a mellow tone in the range of a french horn. Song written by our bandleader Jessica Keyes

Jessica Keyes :: Vault

Vault by Jessica Keyes, for solo saxophone with electronics. Performed at Hopkins' Got Talent on December 10, 2018. Recorded by Human Being Productions.

This Land is Not

Excerpt from open score for low reeds composed by Jessica Keyes. Performance at Current Space on August 9, 2019 by temporary ensemble Reedswarm.

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About Jessica

Baltimore City

Jessica Keyes's picture
Jessica Keyes is a Baltimore-based performer and composer. Her compositions explore trickster characters, ecstatic energy, and communion with the audience. Under the name Mueo, her solo practice for saxophone and electronics explores the tensions and transportive nature of durational performance with slowly building complexity. Jessica leads an 11-piece punk brass band called Bedlam Brass and is a member of the experimental chamber group Trucker Talk. She also collaborates regularly with other artists... more

Mueo

Mueo is my solo music project for synthesizers and woodwinds, in which I create durational music with rich and complex timbres and textures. I released my first album in November 2020, called Upbraid the Permitting Stars. I created this music during the time I was bedridden between two spine surgeries. I found that creating generative patches on my eurorack modular synthesizer provided me with a tool for deep listening as a form of pain management. I often livestreamed my patches while they were running, and developed a small following of listeners who also found the music to be soothing.

Now that I'm in recovery from my surgeries, I am exploring ways to expand my solo practice as a foundation for collaboration with other artists. I composed and recorded the score for a short film called Litmus Test for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, which premiered online on January 15, 2021. I am also in talks with more puppetry artists to produce music for more shows in 2021, including (hopefully) a full-length reading of Milton's Paradise Lost with shadow puppets or animation.

I am also working on a new album inspired by Philip Glass' piano etudes. I am learning the etudes on the piano, and engaging deeply with those that particularly speak to me by applying harmonic analysis to the chord progressions and recreating them with generative patches on my synthesizers (see attached media No. 16).

Additionally, I have included recordings and scores for two compositions for my solo performance written before I began performing under the name Mueo.

  • Upbraid the Permitting Stars

    Generative ambient music produced bedside during a time of serious injury and the long process of healing. An excellent subject for deep listening if you need to take your mind off something or for playing in the background if you are looking to relax. Full album on Bandcamp: https://mueo.bandcamp.com Released November 25, 2020 Music by Jessica Keyes Mastering by Patrick McMinn Recorded at Hidden Arrow Studios
  • No 16

    Composed and performed by Jessica Keyes, inspired by Philip Glass' Piano Etude No. 16.
  • Mirror Dance II

    My contribution for the Mind on Fire Exquisite Corpse piece produced by Jeremy Lyons: youtu.be/eAcXlElXxYc, published July 2, 2020
  • Hope

    A 2020 remote collaboration with singer Thomas Ward. Thomas set the text of the poem Hope by Emily Dickinson to his original composition, which I then processed using my eurorack synthesizer.
  • I Can't Find My Hands Today

    Studio recording of Loud for Joy Part III, composed and performed by Jessica Keyes.
  • Loud for Joy (Score)

    Score for 4-part variable length composition by Jessica Keyes.

    PDF icon Loud for Joy (Score)
  • Vault

    Vault by Jessica Keyes, for solo saxophone with electronics. Performed at Hopkins' Got Talent on December 10, 2018. Video by Human Being Productions.
  • Vault (Score)

    Score for variable length composition by Jessica Keyes.

    PDF icon Vault (Score)

Litmus Test

I composed, arranged, and recorded the music for this short film written by Dirk Joseph for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society Puppet 6-Pack, which premiered on January 15, 2021. In this visionary and searching sci-fi tale, an underground bunker in a post-apocalyptic future, a young scientist and a strange visitor engage in a debate that will decide the fate of the human colony. The music calls attention to the opposing forces of underground life reliant on machinery and the longed-for connection between humanity and nature through the use of acoustic instruments such as clarinet, saxophones, piano, and samples of resonant boulders recorded at Ringing Rocks Park varyingly combined with electronics and processed through eurorack synthesizer. The music gradually speeds up and intensifies as the show builds to its closing moment.

Additionally, I designed the sound for the character Geode's voice. The concept was that Geode, a semi-intelligent probe from the surface observing the people in the bunker, is a stand-in for nature and all the world on the surface. I recorded the performer with hard autotune, then copied the voice 3 times transposed to different registers and added moving filters so each comes in and out of prominence at different rates. The result is a mixture of robotic and humanistic voices that sounds otherworldly.

  • Shara's Lament

    Written and arranged by Jessica Keyes for vocals, clarinets, flutes, saxophones, and synthesizers. All instrumental parts performed by Jessica Keyes.
  • Geode's Song

    Written and arranged by Jessica Keyes for processed vocals, synthesizers, and clarinet. Vocal processing and all instruments performed by Jessica Keyes.
  • Dialogue and Underscoring

    Underscoring composed and arranged for piano, clarinet, and synthsizers. Performed by Jessica Keyes. Sound design on Geode's voice by Jessica Keyes.

Bedlam Brass

Jessica Keyes is the bandleader and composer for this high energy 11-piece brass band playing original music to get you up on your feet. With explosive rhythms, soaring melodies, and playful interchanges between musicians, this is the anti-marching band we would have wanted to invade the field with in high school but never got the chance to.

Bedlam Brass is part music and part performance art. We incorporate theatrical choreography and a sly sense of humor in our performances to engage with and delight our audiences. For Bedlam Brass-hosted events, Keyes prepares bills in which bands alternate playing on stage and playing within the audience to eliminate changeover times and build the maximum energy in the room. She also endeavors to book shows that represent Baltimore's diversity of musicians and musical genres, with a focus on including female-identifying and queer performers.

In her compositions for Bedlam Brass, Keyes writes parts with the personalities of the performers in mind. Her music is energetic and danceable, but full of complex counterpoint and important moments for each part so the musicians have as much fun as the audience does. Through the music and performance practice, Keyes challenges her musicians to take the written notes and turn them into an immersive experience that draws audiences in and suprises them.

On February 8, 2020, Keyes hosted a fundraiser for recording Bedlam's first EP at Heartwood Studios. The event had a circus feel with a variety of games and opportunities for engagement, including live commentated MarioKart and Mad Libs Karaoke. The band raised $900, but unfortunately had to delay recording the album because of the pandemic.

Additionally, Keyes designs all the show posters and merchandise for Bedlam Brass.

  • Bedlam Brass

    Bedlam Brass group photo
    Family photo of Bedlam Brass, by Human Being Productions
  • Bedlam Brass - Goes on any Finger

    This video was created in the early summer of 2020, when, due to the pandemic, the band could no longer play together and felt increasingly called to continue our collaboration however possible. Each member recorded ourselves in isolation, and I stitched together the parts and mixed them in ProTools, accounting as best I could for the fact that most of us recorded ourselves on our phones. In this song, I play the alto horn, an antiquated British marching instrument with a mellow tone in the range of a french horn. Song written by our bandleader Jessica Keyes
  • Wanna Eat Some Pancakes (abridged)

    Abridged recording of Wanna Eat Some Pancakes composed by Jessica Keyes, recorded by each member of Bedlam Brass during quarantine. Mixed by Patrick McMinn.
  • Duck Duck Bear

    Composed by Jessica Keyes for Bedlam Brass.
  • Bedlam Brass at The Crown

    Bedlam Brass played with Coy Fish and Microkingdom at The Crown on April 19, 2019. Video by Tom Kessler.
  • Inxi Drop

    Composed by Jessica Keyes. Performed by Bedlam Brass at Hopkins' Got Talent on December 21, 2017.
  • Dirty Plaid (Score)

    Score for Dirty Plaid by Jessica Keyes.

    PDF icon Dirty Plaid (Score)
  • Show poster for Bedlam Brass

    Show poster designed by Jessica Keyes
    Show poster designed by Jessica Keyes
  • Show poster for Bedlam Brass

    Show poster designed by Jessica Keyes
    Show poster designed by Jessica Keyes

This Land is Not

I co-hosted a concert of new music at the Current Space with composer and bassoonist James Young on August 11, 2019. I wrote This Land is Not, an open score composition performed by the temporary low reeds ensemble, Reedswarm. We assembled and ensemble of 12 low woodwinds (baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, bassoon, and bass clarinet) to perform alongside other temporary ensembles.

The structure of the piece was inspired by the performance practice in shape note singing, an important facet of my personal music practice, where singers may choose any part and each part is of equal importance. The opening melody is based on a bird song heard during the summer of 2019 in West Virginia and the harmonic framework draws from laments in traditional Serbian singing. The closing choral is based on the song “Arkansas” from the Sacred Harp.

Additionally, I designed the show poster.

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