A is for Azimuth and Arnica [in the series 'Aleph...Zain']

Video: Chris Froh in Studio 114, UC Santa Cruz.

A is for Azimuth and Arnica [ ca. 8’00” - 28’00” ] 2007. Share
Solo for found objects and found texts.

First interpretation: Hands on Blocks, Bowls, Pots, and Drums. [Available on Albany Records’ 2010 Disk “Music for Percussion” (TROY1225).]



A is for Azimuth and Arnica (commissioned by Chris Froh (2007), revised (2009) for Russell Greenberg and Ian Antonio) is a collection of six activities that a musician can prepare, either in parts or as a collection; either for an impromptu reading (with improvisation), or to construct a distinctive (but not really unique) musical work of her or his own.

Each activity consists of layered groups of notes whose relationships to one another—like voices in a motet or fugue—are precisely determined in advance, but whose pitches and timbres are unknown. The performer choses ‘found texts,’ and several objects (and ways to hit them), in order to fulfill requirements of contrast and similarity in the work. Melody, harmony, and texture are absent from the score, but they arise within the work unpredictably, as byproducts of the performer’s choices.

The score presents performers with a network of forked roads that freely pass through the rhythmic ideas within each of the six “activities,” and between them. Convergences along these paths inevitably reach thresholds that cause the tempo of the work to modulate, and each modulation shapes the next possible array of paths in the work. In this way, the networks guide the performance in a consistent dialogue of pulsed and nearly pulseless melodies. The rhythms and contours of the work attract and repel one another, molecules or cells dividing and recombining in accord with their compatible and incompatible features. The performer circulates these virtual protein chains—or linked viruses and antibodies?—through a kind of aural bloodstream.

This work is thus a composition only in a limited sense of the word: the sense of a “make-up”, a process in which the materials of a thing, and relationships among its materials, become what they are. Think of the “composition” of soil, of a migrant population, a student body, or of a stock portfolio. At 5-30-09 4:11p, the time of press for the second edition of this score, the top Google Scholar result in a search for “the composition of” (in quote), was Paulo Mauro’s “Corruption and the Composition of Government Expenditures.”^1. In order to go further than this, and create that more stable, musical- or language-literatary sense of the word ‘composition’—in other words, to give A is for Azimuth and Arnica the status of an “assemblage”, or “design”, that connects musical ideas intentionally, one has to complete the score by reading it. Like any other “make-up,” or plurality (and like compositions, in Mauro’s sense), this score’s identity is neither absent nor present, but between the two: in its process of becoming.

^1. Journal of Public Economics 69 (1998) 263–279.




Music for Percussion (Albany Records TROY1225, December 2010)

Art direction: Alex Inczech. Images: Ben Carson.

Order at

Featuring percussionists Chris Froh, Ian Antonio, Russell Greenberg, and Aiyun Huang.


Sound engineering by Eric Parson (A is for Azimuth and Arnica: interpretations by Froh, Antonio, and Greenberg. Nick Squire (A is for Azimuth and Arnica: interpretation by Aiyun Huang); and William Coulter (Mediations, Tenors). Hear excerpts below.


[View artist bios.]

[View the full CD jacket  (draft)]

Chris Froh

TRACK 1 / First Interpretation. Glass and porcelain bowls, wood blocks, floor toms. Recorded September 10, 2009 at “Studio” 114 at the UC Santa Cruz Music Center. See video above.

TRACK 2 / Second Interpretation. Sticks on small objects, glasses, wood blocks, towell-dampened floor toms. Recorded September 10, 2009 at “Studio” 114 at the UC Santa Cruz Music Center.


[ca. 1’00” excerpt]

[ca. 1’00” excerpt]

Ian Antonio

Miscellaneous porcelain, cardboard, floor toms, and bongo. Recorded August 2009 at SUNY Stony Brook, New York [ca. 17’45”].

[ca. 0’50” excerpt]

[ca. 1’00” excerpt]

Russell Greenberg

Miscellaneous glasses, paper and cardboard, small tom and small bongo. Recorded August 2009 at SUNY Stony Brook, NY [ca. 22’30”].


[ca. 0’50” excerpt]

[ca. 1’00” excerpt]

Aiyun Huang

Miscellaneous bottles, drums, books, and metal fragments. Recorded September 2009 at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec [ca. 9’00”].


[ca. 0’30” excerpt]

[ca. 1’00” excerpt]

Mediations, Tenors — 2008

Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg

Marimba with metal objects, vibraphone with wooden objects. Recorded April 2009, at the “April in Santa Cruz” festival of new music. [ca. 11’30”]




Click on an image to view details of the inside front page (left) and back cover image (right).

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