“Replacement,” a new work for dance

This spring, I had the pleasure to work with choreographer Rebekah Brown on her MFA thesis piece at Mills. The result is 17-minute work for soloist + 5 dancers, and 5 musicians + conductor, called Replacement.

In the group choreography, Rebekah explores ideas of synchrony and asynchrony, of proximity and distance. Individual dancers often share material but reorder it such that they are in a perpetual process of aligning and misaligning with each other. Subsets of the group often coalesce briefly before dissolving, while major formal moments are frequently marked by a group unison gesture. The piece is very roughly in two major sections–the first more lyrical and continuous, the second significantly more abstract, disjunct and experimental.

The music stands in the same relation to the dance as the dancers do to one another. That is, sometimes aligning relatively clearly, sometimes drifting into its own space and time. All musical material was derived and translated–subjectively, of course, and with great liberty–from the gestural material in the dance, but it is constantly being layered, reordered, randomized and used as source material for improvisation. The result, I hope, is one of a large, complex multi-media art object viewed from two independent perspectives simultaneously, its shape revealed non-linearly over the course of the work.

Rebekah Brown, choreographer, soloist
Peter Sloan, composer, conductor

Adrianne Cherry
Maya Haines
Sarah Shouse
Shannon Stubblefield
Ashley Yee

Tim Kim, violin
Kimberly Sutton, cello
Joshua Marshall, saxophones
Brett Carson, piano
Scott Siler, vibraphone, snare drum

Filmed Saturday, April 20, 2pm, in Lisser Theater at Mills College.


Brand new sounds

Please enjoy these two new recordings. The first is a realization of my graphic score search field by the Mills College improvisation workshop:

Here’s the score:


I’ve also just heard for the first time my friend Andrew Jamieson’s and my performance of Steve Reich’s iconic Piano Phase. Check us out:

Andrew and I are planning a program of American minimalist process duets for April. Also, many of us at Mills are working towards a performance of Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. This spring is the 50th anniversary of Reich’s graduation from Mills.

I have too many things going on right now…


It’s been a while. Things are good? Perfect.

At your leisure, please check out this new blog to which I will be a regular contributor. It’s called The Fly Bottle, and I’m writing it with my friend and co-conspirator, Sam Arnold. I wrote the most recent column, which is about brainless chickens. Intended audience is brainy humans.

Sloan out.

Stay At Home Dads launch S@HDemo

It’s been a long and exciting week. My Birmingham-based indie improv ensemble, Stay At Home Dads, is thrilled to make available our quasi-eponymous debut EP, S@HDemo. That’s me on trumpet/trombone/electric marimba, Kevin Lehner on guitar/bass, Davis Haines on drumset/spoken word, and Charlie Moonbeam on auxiliary percussion/vocals. I took the album and track photos.

We’ve worked with a lot of energy and focus to bring this project to you so recently after the inception of the group, and we hope you love listening to it as much as we have enjoyed creating it!

Listen here:

Many thanks are owed to our friends and family for their support, critical feedback, and rehearsal/recording space. Thanks!

More soon!


Noise-To-Signal –or– the “Cutting Edge” of new music

Men, women, boys, girls, and undecided: it’s that time of year again, when trombonists far and wide make foolish life choices and publish the footage online.

Tonight’s installment is the final selection from the recent “Beer and Difficult Music” event in Tuscaloosa, AL. It’s am an improvised piece for trombone and lawn mower called Noise-To-Signal.

I “wrote” it.

I think you’ll “enjoy” it.

Words about the music:

Noise-To-Signal is an improvisation for trombone and lawn mower. In this video of its world premiere realization, the trombone emerges gradually from the lawn mower, ascending octave by octave and organically accumulating and developing motivic material. In the work’s final moments, the trombone escapes from the grinding industrial clatter into a rarefied space arguably as desolate as it is triumphant.


Joe Parmer (event hosting, staging), Colin Brogan (filming, editing), Eric Scott (filming, sound), Christine Curcio and Kenneth Sloan (lawn mower, genes, parenting, forgiveness…)




I really do hope you enjoy this piece, all quotation aside.

Evolve and Be Merry! – A “…change over time…” Christmas

Greetings, mortal beloveds! I come to you with tidings of great joy and decent music. Please enjoy this latest update from “Beer and Difficult Music,” “…change over time…”:

Words about the music:

…change over time… is the result of a year-long collaborative project among Jack Thomason (guitar), Peter Sloan (piano, trombone), and Colin Brogan (drumset). Rehearsing weekly in our living room, we developed a unique trio language and rapport which we now comfortably and creatively navigate. While the freely improvised piece reinvents itself anew each time it is played, our abiding concern is the careful construction and deep exploration of intricate sonic spaces.


Jack Thomason (guitar), Peter Sloan (piano, trombone), Colin Brogan (drumset, editing), Eric Scott (sound), Joe Parmer (filming, event hosting).



“Is God?” – The Problem of Evil

Greetings, friends, enemies, and ambivalent subscribers!

Please enjoy the latest upload from the recent “Beer and Difficult Music” concert, my musical take on David Hume’s “The Problem of Evil.”

Words about the music:

The Problem of Evil was composed in fall 2010. The text for the work is taken from Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, in which he paraphrases Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus’ original statement of the oldest and strongest argument against the existence of a theistic God.

Hume writes:

“Is God willing to prevent evil but not able?
Then He is impotent.

Is He able but not willing?
Then He is malevolent.

Is He both able and willing?
Whence then is evil?

Is He neither able nor willing?
Then why call Him ‘God’?”

The form of the music is supportive of the form of the text, divided into four parallel sections. The first three sections begin with a piano ostinato of six notes, pre-figuring the vocal melody, while the fourth begins with a condensed chordal presentation of the same material. Each ostinato (and thus each vocal phrase) begins with a rising perfect fifth, which I hear as a yearning motive befitting the profound questioning of the text. The vocal melody in section one is reminiscent of early church modes, but, just as Epicurus slowly spins his syllogism, so does the music unravel and dissolve into less stable places. The piece ends with a deconstruction of the ostinato material, ending quietly with the familiar rising fifth motive ringing and important questions unanswered.

Over 9,000 thanks to Perry Davis Harper (tenor), Alex Volobuev (violin), Johnny Moc (cello), Rose McDowell (flute), Brad Baker (piano), Eric Scott (sound), Joe Parmer (event hosting, filming), and Colin Brogan (filming, editing). What a team!