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Work Samples

hands

work in progress of a virtual "performance" video of a new piece written for the ghost life project.

Ghost Life playing Ghostbeat

Live version of Ghostbeat

Ark Installation

This music was written for an installation project by Zoe Friedman called "By Land or By Sea." It is a 2 minute loop that goes on continuously. The passive mood provided by the organ, harp, and percussion is interrupted by a string theme. The string theme has a more suggestive tone, and there are 2 variations within the loop, each resolving differently.

relay 3 ("cathedral""the world is always disappearing)

This is the 2nd half of the Relay Cycle. The layered organ rhythms in the beginning of this sample mimic the bare rhythm section that starts the beginning of the whole cycle. The bass line that comes in the second section, mimics the bass playing in the 2nd section of the first half. The vocal entrance in the last section mimics the vocal entrance of the of the 2nd half of both the sections in the first part.

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About stephen

Baltimore City

I am a Baltimore based musician, who has been performing since 1994.  I am involved in a variety of musical projects, where I play different roles. Among my ongoing musical collaboration projects are Oh Hang (as keyboard player, and drum machine programmer),  Permanent Waves (as a drummer), and with Wheatie Mattiasich (as keyboard accompanist).  I also have some solo projects, which I believe are all related: Ghost Life (as bass player) and Central fire (as guitar player and vocals... more

relay song cycle

this is a song cycle made up of 4 sections. there is a break between sections 2 and 3, but the other sections are connected. the first 2 minutes consist of a few layers of drum machines playing. each layer is made up of little sounds and the relationship between the layers shift and evolve. eventually acoustic instruments join in and sprout songs over the rhythmic base. each of these beginning section starts instrumentally and ends with a vocal entrance. the last 2 sections mimic the beginning in an expanded way. section 3 "the cathedral" eventually leads into "the world is always disappearing" (section 4) which is a vocal section. the use of a sample that exists throughout the piece is another element that ties it all together. the whole scheme of the work goes like this: Relay 1 (percussion introduction, instrumental section leading to vocals); Relay 2 (percussion transition, instrumental section leading to vocals)// Relay 3 ("cathedral" organ introduction/transition, instrumental section leading to the song"the world is always disappearing")

ghost life

ghost life is an ongoing project and its concept is always changing for me. when it first started, i wanted to combine my love of pop and ethnic music with ensemble organization. the instrumentation allowed me to put percussion up front to form its own narrative. at an age where anybody can play a single instrument and fill up a room completely with sound, i wanted all the individual sounds of the group to be tiny. i also tried to avoid any use of chord progressions, relying instead on the constanly shifting rhythmic elements and combinations to sustain interest in the pieces. in "ghostbeat 4" i started using tunable percussion. a set of marching quad drums are in tune with the bass, and play an intertwining pattern the same exact register. therefore percussion at this point adds to the melodic elements of the music. in turn, the melodic instruments (bass and organ) play in a more percussive manner in the middle section. in "a3" my focus on was to grow a small melodic motif that occur in the beginning. the marching quad drums are playing an intertwining rhythm with both the drum kit and the bass. the small percussion section is still in the foreground and maintains its own narrative. the "relay cycle" was a variation on this approach to music. since the "relay cycle" didn't rely on the performability of the pieces, i was able to make the music more dense. since the completion of the "relay" i've started to think of this group as a visual live group. a new piece takes into account some actions that would enhance the structure of the piece. a cycle that will hopefully involve dance, has been plotted out and has been started.

  • hands fade out

    virtual "performance" of a new ghost life piece. the video is a work in progress
  • moose

    finished december, 2013. this was originally written with the idea of using an electronic rhythmic element with a rhythm ensemble. this proved to be really hard to coordinate in a live situation so the electronic element was rewritten for live instruments. the instrumental bridge in the middle uses a series of different trilling passages mainly by the keyboard underlined by shifting small percussion accents. all the instruments in this recording were played by myself.
  • moose

    ghost life performing a live version of moose at wtmd for an art opening. filmed by "theuniquekat"
  • We Are A Thing (a3)

    new recording of a3 from 2017.
  • a3

    ghost life performance at floristree. february, 2014. filmed by thomas kessler.
  • ghostbeat 2017

    new recording from 2017 of ghostbeat. a new string arrangement has been added in the middle section. the vocals have not been recorded yet.
  • ghostbeat4

    ghost life performance at floristree. february, 2014. filmed by thomas kessler.
  • ghost 2

    first draft mix of a recent recording. this song represents my initial conception of this group. i wanted this song to be made up of an ensemble of small sounds.
  • like a lot of men going

    ghost life performing at the fields festival. august 2014. filmed by thomas kessler.

central fire

my usual mode of working is to work on something for a span of time. that way i have some time get some new perspective and develop ongoing ideas. while working out the end of the relay song cycle, i was getting frustrated by going back to the same material over and over. i decided to sit down and write a song and see it through to the end (or close to it) in the course of an hour or two. this gave me some distance from the main project at hand, and gave me a sense of accomplishment. it turned out to be a good fun exercise and i continued to do it. after a while i realized that i had acquired a few songs that i liked and wanted to do something with them. my approach to these songs is very different from my usual working methods and the ideas behind this project continue to progress. the songs are pop based but the structures have done away with the usual progression. the sections are rarely repeated, and if so, they have been developed. also, these songs remain short and focused on a single main theme to develop. a unique visual element will be part of the live presentation. i recently have finished a sets worth of material and hope to perform it in the coming year with a new group.

oh hang

duo project started in 2013 with long time collaborator, emmanuel nicolaidis. these songs were recorded in September, 2014.

  • oh hang cassette release

    released octo 4, 2015. cover art by chris day.
  • oh hang live

    photo from a live show in washington dc. 2016
  • trumpet song

    this song uses a drum machine/sample. in this piece we experimented at times with using keys that would clash with the sample. but we were also trying to approach it that it would still sound natural.
  • sisters (2014)

    the idea behind this song was the use of 3 different layers of rhythm, each with its own timbre. the first one was a sample that had it's own built in rhythm. the second was a more electronic dance club rhtythm, and the third would be the drumset.

permanent waves

started a new band collaboration in 2016, as a drummer. being the drummer of a group is a new experience for me. we recorded an album in el paso, texas, in july, 2017.

music for other people's projects

music written for other people's projects

  • ark loop (2016)

    a soundtrack written for an installation by zoe friedman at school 33. this is a 2 minute loop that continues on without end. in this sample, it repeats twice then fades out.
  • Amores Hallaras

    an arrangement of a peruvian song made for an occasion (2016)
  • gone gone (2013)

    a song written in collaboration with wheatie mattiasich for her album "little black star"
  • blue star (2012)

    a song co-written with solo artist wheatie mattiasich for her album
  • novoline track (2013)

    berlin musician, nat fowler, asked me to add some additional piano tracks on this song. this is a working mix of the track
  • playing with Thank You

    a video still of me playing with the band Thank You in England. December, 2011.
  • playing with Thank You

    a video still from a show with the band Thank You. Genova, Italy. December, 2011
  • mixtum (2012)

    this is more of a musical exercise but i really like these. yutaka houlette asked people to make musical interpetations of drawings for a project called mixtum. the guidelines were that they have to be able to loop on themselves in four measures at 100 bpms, and be in a key of c. these would allow each musical segment to be layered on top of each other, as determined by chance operations. these are a few of the ones i did. in this you will here interpretations of snowflake, tee pee, sun, seahorse, followed by some of the combinations of the four.
  • dance of the elements (2008)

    this was music written for rachael tietjen, for a staged version of the original little mermaid. it was a dance number in which the elements come out in sequence. i decided to use strictly percussion. this was performed a few times. ghost life has performed it independently of the play as well.

collaborations with comic book artist, eamon espey

music written to accompany eamon espey's visual works

chamber piece

golden age

this was an attempt to bridge the gap between classical song cycles and pop music. the impetus for this project was an art opening at the current gallery, where it was first performed. for this, we decided to work with orchestral instruments and vocals. the 14 piece ensemble was made up mostly of hired peabody students. the only other time these pieces were performed was at whartscape, in 2008, at the 2640 space. with the exception of the moon song, these pieces were written in collaboration with emmanuel nicolaidis.

  • II. moon song

    this is a midi mock up of this piece because it was never properly recorded. the "bassoon" sound represents the vocal line. unlike the other 2 orchestral songs, this uses more classically oriented melodic figures.
  • III. like a lot of men going

    this was an attempt to write pop music, using pop instruments, but using a more chamber-like interplay between the instruments.

more dogs

this was a trio group with emmanuel nicolaidis and michael bouyoucas. initially, strictly, a studio group, we were able to create ensemble-like passages. the "moveable walk" is piece which exploits the ability to quickly shift timbres while anchored to a central theme. "cabbage bring me the lettuce. i want my wife back" is also anchored on a main theme, but emphasizes the cadences by using silences between the variations.

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