Intelligent Designs

Violin, Alto Saxophone and Live Electronics

Score, Parts and Electronics available from

Voice House Publishing

Music Sample: Intelligent Designs [Excerpt]

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Program Note:

Intelligent Designs (May 5, 2006) was composed for SWARMIUS. It loosely investigates notions related to evolution and from there derives analogies for growth and change of musical materials. Briefly, identical materials are employed at vastly different levels of scale. This results in contrasting musical textures and surfaces that, though essentially identical, elicit divergent cultural and emotional associations. This exemplifies one of my current inquiries: Can various scientific, anthropological and mathematical paradigms be filtered through wholly musical strategies to reveal unexplored musical results and also shed light on organizational principals in other disciplines? If every musical work, no matter how humble, is essentially an exploration in cognition, what can we learn from the experiment?

In this musical experiment hip-hop-like textures are wedded willy nilly with Gamelan-like textures: unlikely but inevitable products of invisible underlying forces. The musical company that this odd-couple keeps includes jazz, rock, Gypsy, Middle-Eastern, German classical and vaudeville, like the sparkling facets of daily life.

So what is the lesson? If you have any ideas, please send them to me! We can compare notes -- I will tell you what I think!

Mainly I hope that Intelligent Designs is a barometer for our time; a classical music that mirrors and embraces its milieu, and that is comfortable in classical halls as well as nightspots.

The electronic portion comprises raw materials from the current San Diego urban soundscape: construction noises such as jack hammers, pneumatic power staplers, distant machine-shop grinder ambiences; a large, beautiful ceramic Mexican vase, harmonic spectra from Chinese gongs, plus the transfigured sounds of the musicians for whom the work was specifically composed and a few surprises.

Jozefius Vaatierz Rattus, May 5, 2006


SWARMIUS comprises SAXIMUS (Saxophones), Fiddlus (Violin), Sammy D. (Dancer/Choreographer), and Jozefius Vattierz Rattus (Electro-Acoustic Composer/Laptop performer). The quartet is committed to expanding the avant-garde classical literature to encompass a New Relevance. The New Relevance demands works that are non-elitist, rigorous, and multi-level: works that are simultaneously accessible and challenging. To this end, SWARMIUS combines traditional virtuosity with a search for new timbres, performance practices, and 21st century cross-cultural aesthetic reflection. It challenges timeworn, outmoded norms for the uses of classical music, the means by which it is presented, and the venues in which it is experienced. SWARM unites performers, composer, and choreographer, focuses them on a common goal, and puts them onstage together. SWARMIUS is in residence at the School of Music and Dance at San Diego State University, home for 17 years of the maverick genius Harry Partch Ensemble. SWARMIUS strives to emulate Partch's uncompromising aesthetic values.


Joseph Waters (b. 1952) is a member of the first generation of American classical composers who grew up playing in rock bands. Throughout his career he has been intrigued by the confluence and tensions that entangle and bind the music of Europe and Africa. His interests include physiological, sub-cultural pattern seeking mechanisms and development of fractal cognitive models for understanding pattern recognition. Much of his work involves interactions between electronic and acoustic instruments. He is the founder of NWEAMO (New West Electro-Acoustic Music Organization). Each October the NWEAMO Festival travels between Mexico City, San Diego, Portland and New York City, presenting composers from around the world in concerts that unite the worlds of avant-garde classical and experimental electronica. He also performs and composes for the Waters_Bluestone_Duel, a collaboration with percussionist Joel Bluestone that explores the combination of live electronics and percussion, as well as SWARMIUS the virtuoso interdisciplinary quartet in residence at San Diego State University. He studied composition at Yale University, the Universities of Oregon and Minnesota, and Stockholms Musikpedagogiska Institut. Primary teachers were Jacob Druckman, Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds, Dominick Argento, and Martin Bresnick.

© 2006 Joseph Waters
All Rights Reserved

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