Labyrinth of Leaves
(Scanned at Flutter-Speed for Ultraviolet Nectar Glow)

— Tenor Saxophone and Live Electronics —

Score, Parts and Electronics available from

Voice House Publishing

Music Sample: Labyrinth of Leaves, Scanned at Flutter Speed for Ultra-Violet Nectar Glow [Excerpt]

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Program Note:

Overture: Labyrinth of Leaves (Scanned at Flutter-Speed for Ultraviolet Nectar Glow) (December 18, 2006) was composed for SWARMIUS, and specifically for SAXIMUS (aka Todd Rewoldt) virtuoso saxophonist.

This work continues my series that explore rhythms of American “popular” genres and attempt to unite these with the legacy of European Art Music, with the intention of contributing to an emerging contemporary “classical” music that has the ability to connect with a curious audience that is most familiar with vernacular styles.

The materials here reflect my interest in the flying motion of the common cabbage butterfly, which, though undistinguished in its' color and markings, is an amazing aerial acrobat. In preparing and composing this work I spent many hours observing, filming and attempting to describe in words the lexicon of movements and behaviors that I could discern among cabbage butterflies in the mini-jungle of my back garden in San Diego.

To me the flight of these creatures is the visual analogy of complex, quasi-improvisational melodies similar in speed, complexity, and duration to the phrases articulated by bebop jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, though with a unique set of micro-rhythms and gestures due to the specific biological mandates of the butterflies' econiche.

My aim in studying these was to arrive at a new melodic style that is self-consistent and complete, but unrelated (except obliquely) to any previous melodic styles.

Another aspect of the this work concerns the study of contemporary rock-derived rhythmic grooves and harmonic idioms associated with electronica and 21st century urban club & lounge “coolness”. There is a laid-back, implied sexiness in these textures that is a descendent of the Brazilian jazz that swept the world in the 1960's in the lovely compositions of Jobim.

Jozefius Vaatierz Rattus, Dec. 18, 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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