Human Exoskeletons (2017)
for two violins with b-flat trumpet


ARCUS Collective
Sam Wells, b-flat trumpet
Maya Bennardo, violin
Marc Charles, violin

Human Exoskeletons was commissioned by ARCUS Collective, and premiered in New York, New York in spring 2017. The work is based on a what-if conversation resting on this premise: What would life be like if humans were invertebrates with exoskeletons? The following things were discussed.
(1) Phenotypes: our shells might be spiky or smooth, shiny or matte, tough or brittle, iridescent, striped, rainbow, electric blue, etc.
(2) Fashion, body-mod, and accessorizing: Maybe we would paint ourselves or chisel carvings in our shells.
(3) Sounds: When we breathed we might hiss at different resonant frequencies. Maybe we would speak by stridulating or tapping. Body percussion would be hard and sharp and clicking, rather than fleshy and soft.

The piece consists of rattling, clacking, and snapping sounds interlaced with sections of hissing and breathing. A warm melody in the violin parts is buried within layers of bitonality and beneath a mercurial solo trumpet part, emerging in fragments here and there.

The work is dedicated to Elliot Patros, Kyle Motl, and Kevin Zhang, with whom I regularly enjoy conversations about sur-realities.