Princeton Application

An introduction to me & my work

[An excerpt from my Statement of Purpose]

When I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 24, one of the ways I processed this new information was by exploring what it meant to be a neurodiverse composer. In the 18 months since my diagnosis, I have undergone a transformation that has resulted in newfound clarity about my artistic perspective and my relationship with my compositional practice. Women with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are at a significant risk of being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, with many not being diagnosed until adulthood (like me!). Because I had spent most of my life not knowing that my own brain was wired differently than most people’s, my diagnosis recontextualized my life experiences through a new lens. My challenges, behaviors, interests, and relationships all took on new meaning.

In early 2021, I enrolled in an independent study course on algorithmic composition and computer-aided composition (CAC). I studied and listened to algorithmic repertoire and began teaching myself bach, a CAC library that implements traditional music notation within the widely-known Max software. At the same time, I began writing “Synthetic Violet,” my piece for acoustic string quartet and MIDI string quartet (included in my application portfolio & linked below). These two events–the independent study and my first piece using General MIDI sounds–were hugely transformational in my artistic identity. Bringing algorithmic and computer-aided composition techniques into my practice allows me to tailor my creative process to my autstic brain tendencies by infusing it with routine-based systems. 

In the time since finishing the string quartet, I have continued to embrace MIDI sounds in my music. Over the past few months, I have been developing a granular MIDI synthesizer using bach that creates kaleidoscopic, harmonically-rich material from simple strings of counterpoint. I can manipulate the patch to create compelling transformations of harmonic center, microtonal tuning, spatialization, and textural pixelation. I am using this granular MIDI material both in live performance environments and as a tool for composing electronic and acoustic works. Learning bach and implementing these new techniques into my practice has taken a significant amount of time and energy throughout the past year of my master’s studies. I took this time to completely overhaul my compositional practice, and thus do not yet have a completed piece to submit with the application that conveys these new endeavors. I have included a proof-of-concept sampling of sounds that I find captivating and exciting in my application and on this page.

I hope my doctoral studies will be a continuation and expansion of the work I am doing right now. I can see a wealth of potential in my kaleidoscopic MIDI music, and I will continue exploring how it can be used in live performance and in computer-aided composition practices. At Princeton, the diversity of musical styles among the teachers and students will challenge and help cultivate my work. I envision projects that bring neurodiversity to the forefront, such as a performance environment that explores my experience with neurofeedback therapy (a clinical therapy that uses EEG sensors to regulate the brain) and pieces that investigate the relationship between music technology and communication disorders.

Synthetic Violet (2021)

For string quartet and MIDI quartet
This work was my first exploration into using MIDI as an expressive medium in my music. The MIDI quartet represents an exposing of my compositional process because it is made of material that I would normally discard as a byproduct of my creative practice.
Suggested listening excerpts:
1. 0:00-1:49 (m. 1-61)
2. 5:31-end (m. 172-end)

Granulary MIDI Synthesizer Samples (2021)

Created using the “bach” library in Max
This is a short sampling of proof-of-concept excerpts from my current work. Everything you hear is composed entirely of General MIDI sounds. I have spent the past several months programming the instrument that creates these kaleidoscopic MIDI textures, which can be used in live performance environments or as a CAC tool.

Favorite Sunshine (2019)

Fl, cl, vl, vla, vc, pno, perc
“Favorite Sunshine” was written for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and was premiered at the festival when I was a fellow in 2019.
Suggested listening excerpts (marked in score):
1. 0:00-2:42 (m. 1-99)
2. 4:34-end (m. 158-end)

heirlooms (2018)

Singing cellist, fixed media, music box, film
In this piece I was exploring the relationships between recorded music and live performances. The piece can be performed live with or without the visual element; it was written as a standalone cello piece and not a soundtrack.
Suggested listening excerpts:
1. 1:26-2:12 (Page 2, middle staff)
2. 3:23-7:37 (Page 3, end of middle staff)

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