News, Thoughts, Soapboxes, and/or Essays

Tempest in a Teakettle selected for SEAMUS

Posted on Tuesday December 5th, 2017 at 3:17 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

University of Oregon 
School of Music

December 4, 2017

Kyle Vanderburg
=email omitted=

Submission number: omitted

Thank you for your submission to the SEAMUS 2018 National Conference at the University of Oregon.  Congratulations, Tempest in a Teakettle has been accepted for presentation at the conference.  Installations will be presented during the course of the conference and we will be in touch about the details.  Be advised that this acceptance does require that you bring the necessary performers and pre-sound reinforcement equipment.  If you requested that we provide performers or equipment, we will follow-up after we receive confirmation of your plans to attend the conference.

We will hold your position to present your work at the conference if, by Thursday, December 21, 2017, we receive confirmation from you regarding your plans to attend the conference.  This must be done by email to =email omitted=
Please include your submission number =omitted= in all communications.

Note 1: The programs have been developed using the timing for your work that you provided to the database and which was checked against your submitted materials.  Please appreciate that the allocation of time for rehearsal, sound checks, setups, and performance is of critical importance to the flow of the entire conference.  Revisions cannot be made to works resulting in an increased performance time.

Note 2: The deadline for receipt of all performance materials, and performer biographies is January 21, 2018.  If you are providing performers, you must provide their biographical information, even if you are certain they are performing for another composer.

Note 3: Attendance at the conference is required for your work to be presented.  Please register early using the online registration found at (notification will be sent when registration opens).  Conference registration fees are $160 for regular members, $80 for student members, and $180 for all non-members.  A late registration fee of $50 applies for registrations after February 28, 2018.  If circumstances require a late registration, please notify us that you still plan to attend.  Online late registration will be available until and at conference.  On-site registration will also accept cash or check at the late registration rate.

Note 4: The deadline for registering and paying for the Friday Banquet is February 28, 2018.  You will be able to register for and make meal selections as part of the registration site.  We anticipate the cost of the banquet will be $60. More information will be forthcoming.

Note 5: Works scheduled for Thursday performance may have a tech time scheduled for Wednesday evening.

We want to thank our pool of adjudicators who worked diligently and quickly to provide their evaluations of over 400 submissions:  Alyssa Aska, Elizabeth Baker, Mark Ballora, Matt Barber, Brian Belet, Christopher Biggs, Courtney Brown, Lou Bunk, Gil Dori, Frank Ekeberg, Jason Fick, Lyn Goeringer, Akiko Hatakeyama, Aurie Hsu, Simon Hutchinson, Nick Hwang, Grace Leslie, Paola Lopreiato, Barry Moon, Benjamin O'Brien, Ryan Olivier, Olga Oseth, Melissa Pausina, Sean Peuquet, Baljinder Sekhon, Jacob Sudol, Ben Sutherland, Dan VanHassel, Jorge Variego, Kirsten Volness, Chi Wang, Kristina Warren, Emilie Weibel, and Mark Zaki.

Finally, we would like to add to the recognition of your work by the conference selection committee our personal congratulations.  We look forward to seeing you at the conference.
Most Cordially,

Jeffrey Stolet and Akiko Hatakeyama, co-hosts

School of Music and Dance
1225 University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403-1225

August, September, and October Project Updates

Posted on Thursday November 9th, 2017 at 1:43 am by Kyle Vanderburg

The past three months have been full of change--and thankfully, writing. I've been adjusting to North Dakota (brr!), adjusting to NDSU (go bison!), adjusting to marriage (!!!), and finally finishing the saxophone piece. And playing more bassoon.>


This semester I'm teaching Music Entrepreneurship and Instrumental Arranging at NDSU, which has been fantastic! It's the perfect blend of classes I enjoy teaching and student engagement. Unfortunately, I was hired a little too close to the beginning of the semester to have a composition studio, but there is a healthy culture of creativity going on already (it reminds me a lot of Drury), so there's a lot of composing going on under the radar. Now I just have to tap into that.>

Oh and I'm playing bassoon in Wind Symphony. It's good to be playing again, even if all our music for the December concert is all fast Czech stuff that requires lots of practice.>

Saxophone Piece - Austerity>

It's finished, it's finished, it's finally finished! I think I learned more about how to write (or not write) in that piece than I have for a few years. There's no reason it should have taken that long. It's been shipped off to Andrew Allen at Midwestern State University, and hopefully we'll have it performed at NASA this spring.>


October was full of travel, starting out with the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers conference at Fresno Pacific University (which was terrifically fun and edifying and I hope I'll be back next year), and moving on to the NDSU Wind Symphony Tour of North Dakota (Jamestown, Mandan, Beulah, Bismarck, Minot, Bottineau, and Grand Forks), and then immediately to the last few days of the College Music Society national conference in San Antonio.>

Creativity November>

…is in full swing, with this year's piece (tentatively) titled The Earth shall soon dissolve like snow. More on that later.>

Website Version 16>

This will be fun. It's coming soon!>

May, June, and July Updates

Posted on Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 3:37 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

After starting out the year doing a decent job of blog updating, I disappeared for like three months. Here's what happened:

Most of the beginning of May was spent grading. Three classes, 100 students, concert reports and final papers. There was lots of reading. After that, it was getting ready for a road trip with Cassie, driving Oklahoma->North Dakota->Montana->Missouri->Oklahoma->North Dakota. Part of this time was spent finalizing my move from Norman to Fargo. Part of this time was spent getting engaged.

Back in Fargo, Cassie and I moved all her stuff to our new apartment while preparing for the North Ambassadors of Music trip to Europe. Long days of band music, long nights of putting things away.

Then we went to Europe with 400 band kids. London, Paris, Crans-Montana Switzerland, Seefeld Austria, Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany. I recorded a bunch of sounds, some of which are making an appearance in the Saxophone piece.

After returning to the US, Cassie flew down to Orlando for ICA, and I drove to Norman to pack all my things and get them to Fargo. By the first of August, everything was in the apartment at least, if not put away.

So, unfortunately, not a great deal of composing this summer--that is, until we get to August. But we have a few days before I give you the August updates.

April Projects Update: Concerts, Saxophones, Transparency

Posted on Monday May 1st, 2017 at 8:23 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

Hey, it's May, and you know what that means. It's time to do a month in Review post for April. It was, overall, quite productive in a lot of ways, so let's dive in.

Cloud Music

Cloud Music for cloud computing and Audience Participation received its first and second performances, with a lot of great feedback and audience participation. There are quite a few improvements to be made, but the two performances served as a really great beta tests of the concept. Between the two performances, about 1600 clouds were launched from

Sooner Bassooners

This ensemble is one of the most fun I've played with in a long time. AND we've been accepted for Midwest this December! I've had a blast playing with them, and I'm hoping to write something for them in the very near future.

Improv Ensemble

The newly-relaunched New Century Improv Ensemble had its concert on April 28, with a handful of excellent works by several of our student composer-performers at OU. I played a radio. It was a lot of fun.

Saxophone and Electronics

Oh, the saxophone piece. I'm nearly done! With part of it. The first part to the golden section, or the first 4.5 minutes, minus the electronics, are pretty much in place. The next phase is to dump everything I have so far into Pro Tools to start work on the electronic part, before moving on to the second portion of the piece. Here's what it currently looks like: 


Liszt development is continuing, with additions to inventory control systems (marching band uniforms!), comments (add a comment to anything within Liszt, including other comments!), file uploads (drag and drop multiple at a time!), and especially the blogging system, allowing me to present…


I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the creative process recently, and I'll be trying an experiment in making the creative process transparent. You can thank Austin Kleon's Show Your Work for giving me the idea. To that end, I've created a second blog for the site, titled OpenKyle. While the main blog will still be for substantial contributions to human knowledge, OpenKyle will be more along the lines of stream of consciousness. Works in progress, stuff I'm listening to, code snippets, random thoughts, basically all the stuff that goes into creating. It's built on a combination of Liszt and Postmark, with a bit of Microsoft Flow to make it as easy as possible for me to blog. Up in the navigation bar, it'll take the place of "Projects and Research", until I figure out where best to put them.

And that's what's new here. Oh yes, and a bunch of grading.

February/March Projects Update: Travel and Saxophones

Posted on Monday April 3rd, 2017 at 6:04 am by Kyle Vanderburg

Since February flew right by and I forgot to post an update, I'll just cover both months right here. How's that? Fine? Fine.


The Norton Lecture and the Oklahoma Student Composers Workshop keynote were both well-received, with the creativity-based Norton lecture generating a lot of comments. I'm planning on turning that lecture into CMS presentation or journal article (or both!), and there's still a lot of ground to cover. Composition Pedagogy and Creativity in Music kind of lie at an intersection of Music, Psychology, and Philosophy, which translates into a lot of reading to figure out how I want to tackle it. 

Saxophone and Fixed Media Piece

I totally gave up on this piece. At least, I gave up on what I had. Don't worry, it's not a total loss, that music will probably show up in another piece someday. But it won't be in this piece. This piece has all new music to it, and I've finally moved away from the Writer's Block stage of the piece. I'll post a more substantial update when I have more substantial music, but I really like the direction this one is going. Lots of notes.

New IMPROV! Century Ensemble

Business as usual. We'll be presenting some new works at the inner sOUndscapes series concert on April 15. I may or may not be playing melodica.

Past and Upcoming Performances

The theme for February and March was performances, which is spilling out into April. Most of these I've gotten to attend, thankfully. It started with the premiere of Joyride by the Boreas Ensemble at North Dakota State University in February, and a repeat performance of that piece at the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) regional conference at South Dakota State University in March. My new work Tempest in a Teakettle received its premiere at OU's Faculty Composers Recital a few weeks ago and received some great comments. I spent part of last week at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas for the south central regional conference of the College Music Society. The fixed media piece Remnants of Creation was presented at the first concert, and the clarinet quartet version of Caffeination received its premiere by a talented and fun group of students (Anthony Clark, Megan Hearn, Ashlynn Kegley, and John Platt) led by Dr. Steven Becraft on the second concert. They're repeating their performance on Wednesday, and I would love to go but there's no good way to get from Norman to Arkadelphia.

Coming up soon is the inner sOUndscapes concert, where I'll be trying out Cloud Music for the first time, assuming that it's working. And of course NYCEMF in June.

Meanwhile, it's back to grading, composing, and coding (though not in that order)


Norton Lecture: Inspiration/Perspiration: Tracking the Creative Process

Posted on Thursday March 9th, 2017 at 12:03 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

I've finally managed to get the files uploaded from last month's Norton Lecture on the creative process. They're now online here in PDF and PPTX form.

Oklahoma Student Composers Workshop Keynote Speech

Posted on Monday February 27th, 2017 at 1:02 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

My keynote speech from the 2017 Oklahoma Student Composers Workshop, where I talk about composing being like Amazon and issue suggestions on how not to run a kickstarter or do your taxes, is now online here in PDF form here and in text format here.

Tempest in a Teakettle selected for 2017 NYCEMF

Posted on Thursday February 2nd, 2017 at 5:02 am by Kyle Vanderburg

I'm pleased to announce that Creativity November's piece, Tempest in a Teakettle, has been accepted for this year's NYC Electronic Music Festival (NYCEMF)! Details below


Congratulations!  I am writing to let you know that your submission below has been accepted for performance at the 2017 New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival.  The information we have for your piece is as follows:

ID-314   Tempest in a Teakettle  duration 8:00     4-channel fixed media

The festival will take place June 19-25, 2017 at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City and July 14-16, 2017 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. 

Concert schedules are now being worked out.  The program will be posted to our web site,, when it is ready.

Please reply to this message indicating

(1) whether you will accept our invitation,

(2) whether you are planning to attend the festival, and

(3) any limitations on the date when your piece could be scheduled.

Also, if you plan to attend, please let us know whether you would be interested in diffusing your piece in the 16-channel sound localization room.

Planning for the festival has been determined by the durations of pieces submitted, so please verify the duration indicated above.  The duration of the piece will be shown in the printed program.  If we do not have the final version of the media file(s) for your piece, please send them to using a file-transfer service no later than May 1, and please leave at least three weeks before the files expire.

We look forward to seeing you next summer!

January Projects Update: Clouds and Lectures

Posted on Sunday January 29th, 2017 at 12:01 am by Kyle Vanderburg

The new semester is off to a great start, and thanks to a bunch of work I put in this winter to streamline my lesson planning, I'm finding more time for creative projects. In an attempt to update the blog more, I'm planning on doing a monthly review of the projects I'm working on. So let's get started!

New IMPROV! Century Ensemble

After an 18-month hiatus, OU has chosen to re-launch the New Improv Century Ensemble (N!CE) with equal focus on established improv repertoire, new works by OU composers, and laptop ensemble experimentation. We've had a healthy showing so far, and our fearless leader Joshua Tomlinson has plans for us to play Cage's Imaginary Landscape No. 4, if only we can find enough radios. 

As part of that ensemble, I'm writing a piece for audience participation and computing cloud, creatively titled CloudMusic. I'm still finessing the details and the interface, but what I envsion is that the audience will create "clouds" by selecting variables in a web interface, and a performance computer running Max 7 will poll the computing cloud to render those "clouds"shortly after. The performance interface in Max is adorable:


Saxophone and Fixed Media Piece

I have a commission sitting on my desk for Andrew Allen at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, that I spent a lot of work on last semester. Unfortunately I'm not terribly happy with the interaction between the saxophone and fixed media, so I'll be doing substantial work to that piece in February.

Norton Lecture Series: Inspiration/Perspiration: Exploring the Creative Process

As part of OU's Norton Lecture Series, I'm working on a presentation on the creative process and how we teach the creative process, especially as it relates to Music Composition. It's been simmering for six months, and I'm in the process of writing it as we speak, or at least I should be writing it but I'm updating the blog... February 22: 5pm at OU-Catlett Music Center 131.

Oklahoma Student Composers Workshop: A Keynote I Need To Title and Write.

The composition students at OU are working on creating a statewide student composers workshop, a statewide forum for composition students to get together and discuss their music and issues in their field and in Oklahoma specifically. I've been asked to give the keynote speech, which will likely involve composer marketing. February 18: 10am at OU-Catlett Music Center Pitman Recital Hall.

That's it for right to work!

Creativity November: Tempest in a Teakettle

Posted on Monday January 23rd, 2017 at 4:01 pm by Kyle Vanderburg

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and for the past three years or so I've used that as an excuse to cofound "Creativity November" among my friends in Norman. The rules are simple: Like NaNoWriMo, during the month of November you must start and complete a creative work of your choosing. The planning can occur before November, but the actual work has to take place during the month. If the work is completed by the time we meet for our annual December Third meal, you win. If you don't finish, you owe the rest of the participants a cake. 

My project this year was a piece I created the title first (Tempest in a Teakettle), and recorded my stove for an abnormally long time. And my teakettle. I already had a good number of water and storm noises from across the country, and the bulk of the work was just whipping fairly tame storms into an epic tempest. And then I ran a storm siren through a granular sampler and annoyed my neighbors. The resulting eight-minute piece is my first in four-channel surround, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Of course, like many of my recent pieces, I asked Walter Jordan for a program note, and he delivered a beautiful one. 

‘Tempest in a Teakettle’ uses a common household scene to explore the universal feeling of watching small problems grow. As the title suggests, we often minimize these problems, and are left watching and waiting as they compound silently within us. ‘Waiting’ is explored in several ways throughout, and uses the medium to augment these daily dramas until we will allow ourselves to view them center-stage.
As the piece begins, we listen to the ritual of a kettle being filled and placed on a stove. The ring of metal and the hiss of the burner are stretched into storm winds as the listener is drawn down into the kettle. Where we were waiting for the kettle to boil, we are now waiting for the approaching rain. 

Pressure builds, and a palette of familiar storm sounds beat against the sonic space, ushered in by the tornado siren which will haunt the background. The tempest is in full force, even though it is built of milder layers: light rains and distant thunder recorded across the United States layered on top of one another until they slosh from one side of the space to the other. A feeling as familiar on the plains as on the coast, we are now waiting for the storm to pass.

The siren, which has since been drowned out in the wind and rain, reasserts itself. The wail is distorted and layered into shifting harmonies, striking a balance between a lull and a claxon. Through these elements, we explore the sense of obsession that comes from being kept constantly on alert. Fears become disassociated and aimless, until only the waiting itself remains. We are waiting—now that the storm is over—for whatever comes next.

In perfect time to interrupt the cycle, the tea kettle set to boil at the start begins to whistle. The pinging inside as it is removed from the heat echoes that of rain on a tin roof, heard earlier. Just like the sonic manipulations alter and extend the soundscape of the piece, the unease of waiting blurs the sense of scale between the tempest and the teakettle. 

And the abbreviated note:

The title suggests the small problems we consider on a daily basis, waiting as they build within us. ‘Waiting’ is explored in several ways throughout, and uses the medium to augment these daily dramas until we will allow ourselves to view them center-stage.

After being introduced to the teakettle in which we’ll be experiencing the storm, the noise of rain and wind quickly begin to fill the sonic space. Soft rains and distant thunder churn over one another in a tempest, finally giving way to cautious harmonies fashioned from the wail of a storm siren. Through these elements, we explore the sense of obsession that comes from being kept constantly on alert. We wait for the storm, wait for it to pass, and are waiting for what comes next.

Just as soon, the sirens fade, and a full kettle has come to boil while we were preoccupied. As the sonic manipulations alter and extend the soundscape of the piece, the unease of waiting blurs the sense of scale between the tempest and the teakettle.

Program notes by Walter Jordan