for solo djembe (with digital delay), prayer bowl, and audio soundscape


Commissioned by Alex Harmon.
Premiered at University of Alaska Fairbanks New Music Festival –  February 2008


Prime Ordinals is written for a soloist playing primarily on djembe (an African hand drum) amplified with digital delay and accompanied by a pre-written audio soundscape. It is formed through an ordered sequence of prime numbers in which the ordinals occur as note groupings, meters, phrasings, or the number of semitones spanned by the portamento in the soundscape accompaniment.

The soloist is called on to create a variety of timbres from the djembe through different striking or muting techniques. The sound from the djembe is also being sent through a digital delay effect at a rate of 333.33 milliseconds. The delay effect plays a critical role in the rhythmic outcome when combined with the sounds originated by the player. The resulting whole represents a unique interplay that is deliberate—even chaotic at times—but always greater than the sum of its parts.