Kristopher Mariasy is a composer currently located in Mattoon, IL. Kris is a good friend of mine, and we met when studying music at the University of Toledo. After recording his pieces Dark Fields and Three Voices, I wanted to interview Kris to learn a little bit more about his process.
Throughout this composer interview, you will find both nature photos and abstract digital art. I created these pieces based on the inspiration and themes that I heard in his composition, Dark Field.
You can find the Soundcloud link to Dark Fields, the original version of 3 voices (for 3 flutes), and many more compositions, down below. Now, onward to the interview! Also, here is a small portion of the version of Three Voices that I recorded recently (unfortunately the file was much too large to upload in full).
I went a bit rogue here with this composition and actually doubled the voices. Three flute and three voices turned out unexpectedly! Which version do you like better?
1. What artists (musical or nonmusical) inspire you to write?
This is a really hard question because in some ways every composer I’ve listened to has inspired me – I’ll give you my top ten in no particular order: Dr. Lee Heritage, John Cage, Klaus Lang, Martin Iddon, James Tenney, Sehyung Kim, Kristofer Svensson, Alfred Schnittke, Catherine Lamb, and Pauline Oliveros.
2. What instruments do you play?
I play the piano and sing. I’d give anything to sing in a men’s chorus again.
3. What are your other hobbies or occupations outside of being a composer?
I’m a husband and my wife and I have 3 cats, two dogs, a guinea pig, and a rabbit. I work as a janitor part-time, help my wife Alyssa with our business ChrysalisCuts (check us out on Etsy and Facebook!), and play video games and board games.
4. I know you composed Rise for our UT colleague Nick Kelly. Tell me a little bit more about how you wrote this meditation for cello:
Rise was my second piece. I decided on the harmonic series as a concept and wrote down the fundamental (in this case C2) and the following overtones (up to C6) from the bottom up on a piece of 11/17 inch graph tracing paper. I set each little square to equal a whole note and shaped the lines so that one was always rising while the other was always still. (Except for a few instances) The piece finished with a very slow glissando up to C6, and then the cellist is instructed to bow from the strings onto the bridge, and then slowly bow the bridge itself which produces a ‘white noise’ sound. I wanted this to sound like the tone was rising so high that it almost disappeared into the air, but was still faintly there, and then is inaudible.
5. Are you currently working on any new pieces?
Yes, I am! I’m working on two works for you as you know – one is a collection of flute pieces based on the recordings of the mystic and occultist Aleister Crowley, and the other a piece for flute and acoustic guitar. I’m also working on a piece for Nick and Mekayla, for cello and flute.
6. Tell us about your favorite aspects of modern music. What are your thoughts on tonality… Is it overrated?
What I love most about modern music is that it’s like you’re playing in a sandbox – you can do whatever you want! As far as tonality is concerned… it’s dead! Just kidding. I couldn’t live without listening to J.S. Bach. Though I stray away from a true sense of tonality in my works, ie tonal centers, chord progressions…I’ll use aspects of it to shape my pieces so they aren’t completely random.
7. If you could write a piece for any famous musician to perform, who would you write for?
This one is a really really hard question! I’d love to write for Apartment House. They’re a phenomenal group who perform works by living composers and often feature very quiet pieces.
8. Anything else listeners should know about you?
I’m always looking to chat and make connections with performers and artists. Don’t be shy, send me an email! Or if you just want to fond over Schnittke’s choir concertos, we can do that too.