Zero-Sum Game

for orchestra

3(1.2.3/p).3(1.2.3/eh).3(1.2.bc).3(1.2.cb) - 4.3.3(1.2.b).1 - T+3 - hp - pno - str


Work completed: Spring 2019

Duration: 6'

In game theory, a zero-sum game is described as a situation or process by which the gains of one party balance out the losses of the other - in short, the net gain adds up to zero.

I find myself inspired by the ways in which this situation might transfer to our ordinary lives. Often, circumstances arise in such a way that one person’s gain could directly necessitate another’s loss. In my own life, this issue has occurred in sales, politics, friendships, love, and the list goes on.

Zero-Sum Game is a reflection on this topic and the spectrum of complicated feelings which comes with it. A simple, repeating pattern (built from ascending scales in G major, layered in unequal lengths of 7 and 8 notes) forms a calm passacaglia, the emotional basis of the work. Two other musical motifs, or “attitudes”, chime in turn over this ostinato: one cold, haunting, and empty; the other aggressive, brash, and rough around the edges. Eventually, these three characters coincide at the climax of the work, where it is revealed that there is more unity between them than discrepancy - the emotional line is blurred.

(Perusal score forthcoming)