Precision Music for Shitty Instruments

Instrumentation: four players, open instrumentation

Duration: 11′

Program note:

This work is written for four players performing unspecified instruments. Each player has a primary instrument and a set of auxiliary instruments. The concept is simple. Players must navigate precise ensemble-ship while negotiating the challenges of playing on an instrument that lacks basic performance expectations. Primary instruments are intended to be instruments that meet any one (or more) of the following criteria:

What is a shitty instrument?

1) An instrument that is broken in some capacity which inhibits it from being ideally suited for performance in a conventional chamber music setting in front of an audience; the instrument should still be able to produce sound, though sound production should be hindered in a subtle or severe way (i.e. some or all pitches do not sound without creating noise, or some or all pitches are out of tune, etc.).

2) A toy instrument or replica instrument that is not intended, in a standard sense, for precise execution of pitches and rhythms.

3) An instrument that is intentionally modified in one or more ways so as to hinder standard sound production.

NOTE: A “shitty” instrument is not defined as an instrument that is intentionally performed poorly.

SCORE (EXCERPT) – full score available below


Performance – November 2, 2020 – Southeastern Contemporary Ensemble, Hammond, LA

score download/purchase

Precision Music for Shitty Instruments – Score

Full score with parts and instructions


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