photo by GIAHN

Program Notes

In SCREW + NUT, I am interested in expanding the framework of the sounds each instrument of a jazz trio can produce. However, this expansion of timbers does not occur only through extended techniques, instrument preparation or live electronic processing. Above all, I want to incorporate sounds, gestures and materials necessary to manufacture each instrument. 


The project began with an initial vision: to explore the prepared piano sounds within the context of pulse-based improvisation. I was mainly interested in John Cage’s instrument because it produces timbres escaping equal temperament. However, for practical reasons, instead of inserting screws, nuts, paper, erasers and other materials between and on piano strings, I decided to work with sample-based software that allows me to use up to two combinations of preparation per string. As a result, I have an immense assortment of timbres. 


This initial idea unfolded into others. For example, why not extend the notion of ​​preparation to the other two instruments of the ensemble, drums and upright bass? Furthermore, I realized these three wood-based instruments had screws and nuts embedded in their very structures. They depend on these construction materials to exist. So, why not incorporate the sounds of such materials into the lexicon of sounds for this project? And why not incorporate sounds of the actual making of these three instruments? Lastly, why not include the handcrafting gestures of these three instruments’ macking?


I created a vocabulary of samples from my piano preparation recordings, as shown in the “Throwing + Scraping” piece, a video collaboration with artist GIAHN (CalArtian MFA). I also researched the gestures of upright bass, piano, and drum set macking. This collection of gestures is responsible for articulating the materials (wood, screws, nuts, strings, etc.). Motions such as hammering, stretching, screwing, cutting, welding, glueing, sanding, bending, and modelling, among many others, are the gestural models that inspire the performative gestures. Consequently, I named the compositions after them.


photo by Gi Ahn




Pianist, composer, and educator. As a composer, his music has been featured in important international venues and cultural centers. His interests have recently shifted from being solely in classical music to writing in more commercial styles. He is currently a DMA Lecture at the California Institute of the Arts.


Edwin livingston

Los Angeles-based bassist, composer, and educator, Livingston has performed and recorded with Elvin Jones, Jason Marsalis, and Peter Erskine among many others. In addition to a full playing, touring, and recording career he teaches at  USC Thornton School of Music and at the California Institute of the Arts.




Trumpeter, composer, improviser, and technologist based in Los Angeles. As an advocate for new and exciting music, he actively commissions and performs contemporary works.




Based in LA and South Korea, GIAHN works with various mediums, starting from personal and ordinary objects. He is currently an Art and Technology MFA candidate at the California Institute of the Arts. He has a BS in Material Science and Engineering from the Kyungpook National University.



Composer, improviser, and educator, Alex Buck is currently based in Los Angeles. Working across many experimental music idioms, Buck is internationally praised for his award-winning acousmatic works.