stutter-step the concept, blueprint, or pro
steady as we go so act like you know

-CL Smooth

The neat economy of narrative creates a hierarchy of facts: those that serve to advance the story and those that do not. Narrative time must always move forward; if it stops, that hierarchy falls apart and marginal facts subvert the sanctioned order.

The cyclical time of the breakbeat embraces inconsistency and contradiction. Formally, it unites rhythmic extensity and intensity: the proportions within the frame exist singularly as pure duration and they exist ordinally as members of a potentially infinite series. Even when granulated and fractured, this double temporality is preserved. As with Oscar Wilde’s carceral time, it “does not progress. It revolves.”

The sample is individuated but cloven from its history; as a musical atom, it is combined into a heterogeneous mosaic structure. Juxtaposition—relation of exteriority—is the paradigm of sample-based morphology. Instead of fusing into an organic whole, they construct partial and halting affinities, imagining coherence as a limit of interconnectedness, not as an aesthetic imperative. As in the linguistic process of creolization, structure and meaning is found across many reproductive cycles.

Absent the linear arrow of time and the illusion of wholeness, sounds do their work by becoming formally concrete. They do not symbolize a stable interior state or identity; candor and sobriety replace the evangelism of expressivity as primary modes of communication.


stutter-step the concept was premiered by Ensemble Dal Niente at Chicago's Harris Theater on October 7th, 2016 as part of the Ear Taxi Festival.

Matt Oliphant, assistant
Ben Melsky, assistant/harp
Mark Buchner, electric bass
Tarn Travers, violin
Ammie Brod, viola
Chris Wild, cello

Constance Volk, flutes
Andrew Nogal, oboe
Katie Schoepflin, clarinets
Tom Snydacker, saxophone
Gregory Beyer, percussion
Ann Yi, piano

Michael Lewanski, conductor