Below are links to PDFs of some scores that provide somewhat of a cross-section of the music I have made over the past 12 years. It has always been my goal to choose the best process for the musical and practical circumstance. This also means that sometimes with CP Unit--a band that has worked together for several years--it was most effective to just dictate the music aurally and build a form together collaboratively. Naturally, there are no tangible materials (apart from the recordings and the documentations of performances) associated with this process. On the other side, the "Chris Pitsiokos Quartet" had charts that were mostly worked out before the first rehearsal, and in the piece Base Ten, for organ, 100% of pitch and rhythm material is notated (although even in this, the organist has the freedom to choose which stops to use). I don't really find this "improvisation v. composition" discussion interesting. Music is the point, and we find the most efficient means of producing what we desire--and, by the way, what we desire is not always a specific sonic result, we could desire to actualize a process, to inspire a feeling, or any number of non-sonic things. One can "think compositionally" while improvising, and one can improvise a fully notated score. So any sort of simplified "composition v. improvisation" discussion is pretty boring to me. What's interesting is processes and strategies, all of which are fair game. As the first step when writing a piece, every composer should think of which strategy is most effective for the given circumstance, rather than just take it for granted that he/she is a "notes on a page" composer or an "improviser" or a jazz musician who writes "charts." People who haven't thoroughly thought about this are failing to grasp the fundamental principles of what it means to make music. The great filmmakers have always understood that they have to deal with the psychology of the actors and the whole team in order to create interesting art. This is something that composers are still totally naive about. The good ones might have an intuitive understanding of it, but to my knowledge few, if any, have really thought deeply about the psychology of the performer as the primary parameter of what makes a successful piece of music.


(updated March 1 2023)

In January 2022 I began working on this piece and since then it has become my main artistic focus. Irrational Rhythms and Shifting Poles is an ever-expanding piece for four-channel electronics and saxophone, that employs two ideas: rhythms generated by irrational numbers, and playing an audio signal with opposite polarities on different speakers.

A normal sequencer, and in fact, the way we tend to think about rhythm in general, has to do with ratios--that is, equal divisions of a larger time. Even in pieces of new complexity, composers are stuck in this paradigm. They might be dealing with nested tuplets, which are musical representations of complex fractions, but they are still dealing with fractions/ratios, that is, dealing with equal subdivisions. Some new music composers use what are (erroneously) called "irrational time signatures." These time signatures have something in the denominator that is neither a multiple of 2 or 3. For instance if you take 4/5 this would take the quintuplets of the previous measure, take four of them and then base the new time signature off of that. So the new measure is the length of five quintuplets. This can also be expressed as metric modulation. This actually has nothing to do with irrational numbers. An irrational numbers is a value that can only be expressed as a non-repeating decimal, and cannot be represented as a fraction. Pi, square root of 2 and phi are examples of irrational numbers. Anyway, to make a long story short, I made a sequencer based on these numbers. The sequencer controls which speaker the sound is coming out of and whether that speaker has flipped polarity or not. Also, in the new version of the piece, the sequencer also plays drum samples. 

About polarity: a sound is what happens when rapid (more precisely speaking, about 17-20,000 times a second) pressure changes in the air hit our ears. Each part of that oscillation can either be an increase in pressure or a decrease in pressure. When we flip polarity, we turn every increase of pressure into a decrease of pressure and vice versa. If you are looking at the normal visual representation of a soundwave, this means that every time the line goes above zero, a flipped signal will go below zero, and vice versa (zero being the air pressure of the ambient environment). When you flip the polarity of a mono signal, you probably wont hear any difference. But if you take the same sound, put it out of two speakers, and flip the polarity of one of them, and keep the other the original polarity, strange sonic effects happen. You have to kind of hear it to understand it, but technically speaking, a filter, distinct from, but similar to a comb filter, is applied. But the specific nature of this filter creates certain illusions, like the sound coming from further apart than where the speakers are placed, for instance.

So my piece sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, changes the polarity and spatialization of the signal of the saxophone sound, according to rhythms generated by irrational numbers.

Of course, the technical aspects of the piece were only step one. I didn't want a piece that sounded like a study--I wanted to generate something poetically and cathartically interesting, which has been my main project for the past year.

Ok, that's it in a nutshell. Here is a video of a recent performance

Here is a screen shot of part of my messy patch


Finite State Machine

I wrote about these pieces a bit in my Arcana VIII essay. Here's a quotation:

"Starting with my Finite State Machine pieces, which I wrote in 2012, I began exploring alternative strategies in composition. The Finite State Machine pieces were inspired by the structure of finite state automata and certain tactics of John Zorn’s game pieces. In these pieces the participating musicians not only engage in the construction of the structure of the compositions in real time, but work together in rehearsal to create the meta-structure to be followed in performance.

Each circle represents a musical scene. The arrows show which direction the piece can move. In rehearsal any musician can propose a scene, which could be anything from playing a notated piece of music, to a feeling, to silence, to free improvisation, to conducted long tones—in fact a person once suggested a scene that required all the performers to laugh out loud. Then the group discusses where on the score the scene should go, which other scenes it should be connected to, and how so (which direction the arrow should go). Finally, a visual or aural cue is decided upon that represents that scene. Each scene has a different leader, and that leader would be responsible for: a) taking the group to the next scene with the aural or visual cue, and b) conducting, if that particular scene requires a conductor. In this way, the series was defined by a set of rules to be navigated as a group. The rules were intended to encourage maximum participation by each member of the ensemble on a structural (legislative), an interpretive (judicial), and a performative (executive) level, without defining particular roles in any of those domains. In practice, the piece required multiple modes of participation: acts of individuality on both the compositional level (in the proposition of musical scenes) and in performance; engagement in discussions as a whole group about how the piece should be structured; and in leadership, that was traded off in the process of performance."

Finite State Machine

Combination Locks

As these pieces were part of my Master's thesis, there is a pretty thorough description at the beginning. It is the second, and in my opinion much more mature chapter in my utopian music series.

Combination Locks 1

Combination Locks 2


Chris Pitsiokos Quartet

This music was written in 2014 and 2015, rehearsed in 2015 and early 2016, and recorded in early 2016. Below are three examples. This band included the most complex notation I have used so far. Droll Noon originally employed irrational time signatures moving from 4/4 to 2/5. Ultimately it made more sense for the band to feel things as changing between two tempos--100 and 120 bpm. When I wrote this music I was thinking about how we "hear things as improvised" and "hear things as composed." I discovered that if you have a phrase that is very complex and contrapuntal like the beginning of Fried, things are "heard as improvised" but then if you repeat the phrase exactly, the listener retroactively "hears" the phrase as composed. Other phrases have enough synchronicity to be "heard as composed" upon first hearing, but only just barely. Of course this is a highly subjective--I imagine someone not familiar with new music might hear this all as random chaos and noise, and perhaps to some musical geniuses it might all be obviously composed, but anyway, I was playing with this psychoacoustic phenomenon of how we "hear" things, and trying to toy with that psychology. At the same time, aesthetically, I was trying to create a language that was highly complex but still employing the functional roles of the instruments. The bass is often playing some sort of ostinato, and the drums are playing something like beats often. The guitar and sax are more often taking solo or melodic roles than the bass and drums. However, this boundary is also pushed on occasion, and, taking inspiration from baroque music, the independence of the lines is important. Each part should be interesting in and of itself.



Droll Noon

CP Unit

My mode of composition with CP Unit has evolved over the years, and has basically gotten looser and looser with time. The first album involved "charts" basically, with fully written out unique parts, different sections that specified who was to improvise at a given point, etc. As things progressed, I got looser and sometimes only dictated a couple of melodies and left the bandmates to build structures in real time. Other pieces like "The Tower" have a written part, but then some process is applied, in this case a subtractive process (the musical phrases keep getting cut off the beginning, until we are just left with the final phrases).

Death in the Afternoon



Occasionally I have written more or less "through-comosed" pieces. Below is a piece I wrote for Splinter Reeds in 2020. It's in rotation for them, so maybe if you see them they will perform it. The piece is called "Four Unisons" and is a meditation on what the concept of "unison" means and pushes the boundaries of the concept in different ways. The first movement expands the idea vertically--an unison melody is expanded in a quarter tone parallel cluster. The second and third movements are more or less "textural" unisons--that is, although they are not at all unisons in the traditional way, the band is more or less playing the same texture. The third movement is actually a canon. The Fourth movement is conceptually similar to the first, only it moves things horizontally. Slowly the repeated music phrase moves apart by 32nd notes.

Four Unisons

Base Ten is a piece for organ I wrote also in 2020. I have realized a couple of different versions of it--one for synthesizer (produced through MIDI) and one using the MIDI organ at Wesleyan University. It is possible, though challenging for an organist to play this. I think it would also be interesting played on any keyboard instrument--harpsichord would be nice. One can simply eschew the forgo the pedal manual part.While writing this piece I wanted to write something that was completely not timbre-specific. Some of my favorite music (many pieces by Bach for instance) can be played and rearranged for many different instruments and still maintain its interest and integrity. I hope this piece is the same.

Base Ten


At least half of my music hasn't been written down in any way at all. Some of it was extemporized, some of it was created laboriously over months with overdubs and collage, some of it was committed to memory and never written down.