dallasherndonmusic@gmail.com ~ dallas.herndon@utah.edu


Selection of Compositions

Sample scores may be available upon request.  Please contact the composer at dallasherndonmusic@gmail.com for a full history of compositions and/or purchasing inquiries.

When Memories Fade Like Faded Glass (2020) for clarinet and electronics


Soundlence (2020) for flute, clarinet, bassoon, harp, and percussion

Soundlence is an experimental work that explores the relationships between sound and silence, and how our perception of these entities might change depending on the surrounding material or situation.  The piece consists of three distinct layers.  The first layer could be described as a form of “visual” silence, in that no perceivable sound is intended but there are many visual actions that comprise the sense of “energy” that drives the piece forward.  The second layer consists of what one might call “unintentional” sounds, in that they are not traditionally a part of the performance when they are heard.  These sounds might also be described as environmental in that they are based upon sonic material of the natural environment.  The final layer consists of “traditional” sounds, indicated by the use of typical sounds that one would expect from the instruments, using traditional notation.


Conversing With Aliens (2019), for fixed media


Linger (2019), for fixed media

Linger is a piece written in the style of Elektronishche Musik.  I began composing the piece in Pure Data, aiming to create a sound that was representative of a heart rate gradually increasing (suggesting the sound of a heart attack).  I used this sound as a fundamental layer, and then added a number of dissonant/suspenseful sounds in Logic Pro X to create the uneasiness of a “lingering” atmospheric environment.


The Incident (2019), for fixed media

The Incident is an acoustic ecology piece with a narrative sense of development. The fundamental layer of the texture features recordings from my ventures on the “Living Room Trailhead” in eastern Salt Lake City. Other sounds are taken and designed specifically in a way that evokes an illustrative sense of reaction or association by the listener. Overall, my goal was to compose a narrative piece of contrasting sounds, yet remains abstract in terms of interpretation. This piece was composed as a part of my Electroacoustic Composition class at the University of Utah.


Pulsaris (2019), for fixed media


Micromorphosis (2018), for string quartet

Written for the Beo String Quartet, Premiered at the Charlotte New Music Festival (2018)


Two Etudes for Saxophone Quartet (2018)

I.  Prelude

II.  As One

Written for the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, Premiered at the Charlotte New Music Festival (2018)

Two Etudes for Saxophone Quartet was initially inspired by Elliot Carter’s Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for Woodwind Quartet. In each etude, Carter implements a particular musical element and develops this idea throughout the movement. The first movement, entitled “Prelude,” alternatively implements vibrato and dynamics. The second movement, “As One,” uses many common scalar figurations, yet these are written in polytonal swarm of sound, giving the impression that the ensemble should sound as one.


Nescio (2018) for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, cello, and piano

Nescio began from an interest in exploring the final chord that I used in Two Preludes for Violin and Viola (G#, B, C, D, root position); for some reason, I found this harmony to be quite intriguing, and so I first wrote a chord progression from this idea. Eventually, my interests led me to a desire to experiment with color, and so I only thought it would be fitting to implement this desire into a work for mixed ensemble. While not necessarily tonal by any means, the piece is largely grounded in the original harmonic progression idea, and at times it may be seen as a “theme and variations” of sorts. Due to its highly experimental nature, my overall lack of certainty as I was writing the piece, and a difficulty in coming up with a proper title, I decided to call it “Nescio,” a Latin term meaning “I don’t know.”


Things Unseen (2018), for fixed media

My original idea for Things Unseen came to me as I was walking around campus during the spring of 2017. As I listened to all of the sounds occurring around me, from footsteps and idle conversation to the loud hum of an AC unit, I realized that there is a great orchestra of sounds all around us. Yet these sounds often go unnoticed on a daily basis. I therefore decided to record and edit a variety of everyday sounds into a piece. Things Unseen is meant to illustrate this very idea.


Interlocution (2017), for solo marimba

Written for Ayano Kataoka


Tetramania (2017), for fixed media

Tetramania is a piece that I wrote largely as an experimental project. This was the first serious piece I that I’ve written for electronic media, and my ultimate goal was to see how much of a variety of sound/timbres I could create with a single original sound file. The original sound itself is a four-note motive that I recorded on an acoustic piano (F-C-E-B in descending motion). I then manipulated this piano sound in a wide variety of ways, including pitch and frequency manipulation to adding reverb and harmonic amplification.


Heroes (2017), for brass quintet

I first began composing Heroes around the time of Veterans’ Day of 2016. My idea for the title came from one of my favorite television series, Band of Brothers. In the final moments of the series, the actual veterans (upon which the characters are based) are being interviewed and share their memories/experiences as soldiers in Europe during WW2. The final person to be interviewed is the main character of the series, Major Richard Winters, who says the following: “Do you remember the letter that Mike Ranney wrote me? Do you remember how he ended it? “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he said: ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said: no, but I served in a company of heroes.” Although my initial ideas were certainly dedicated to veterans, soldiers, and all of those lost to the tragedies of war, it is ultimately a tribute on a much more fundamental scale; to anyone and everyone that has made a personal sacrifice for the well-being and/or greater good of another, which largely fulfills my understanding of what it means to be a hero. Musical ideas are drawn from the film score of Saving Private Ryan, October by Eric Whitacre, and An American Elegy by Frank Ticheli.


Two Preludes for Violin and Viola (2017)

I.  Entropy

II.  Tranquility

Written for Maya Bennardo (violin) and Hannah Levinson (viola)

Premiered at the 2017 Snow Pond Composers Workshop in Sidney, ME

Two Preludes for Violin and Viola is a piece that serves as an experimental project; I sought to expand my compositional boundaries and explore new techniques, timbres, and textures that I had not yet ventured into. As a result, the piece implements a number of extended techniques, including altered uses of the bow, microtones, as well as harmonics. The first movement, entitled Entropy, is chaotic and highly agitated. Multiple phrases are played as col legno battuto, where the performers are asked to articulate the notes with a batted gesture on the wooden side of the bow. Movement II, entitled Tranquility, is more mysterious, and explores the very high registers of the violin and viola.


Winter (2017), for soprano and piano

Winter” is a piece I originally wrote for Sharon Harms and Steven Beck, two of the guest artists that visited ECU as a part of the NC New Music Initiative.  The piece’s title is from a poem of the same name by William Carlos Williams.  The poem describes the nature of trees shedding their leaves in preparation for the coming winter season.

The music itself is a representation of what personally comes to mind when I think of winter; it is a chill-invoking season, and largely absent of life.  To portray this, the harmony in the piece is highly modal, and uses many open/expanded 7th, 9th, and 11th chords. The soprano ends on the 7th of a CM9 chord, which personally strikes me has being particularly chill-invoking, and the fact that the ending chord is not played in any other part of the piece further emphasizes this idea.


Two Pärts (2017), for solo piano

Two Pärts was originally written for visiting pianist Julia Den Boer as a reading during her residency as a part of the North Carolina New Music Initiative. The title is a reference to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, who is perhaps most well-known for his compositional concept of tintinnabuli. I had been interested in this concept for quite some time after studying his music (particularly his piano work Fur Alina), and so I decided to compose a short piano piece in this style. Pärt’s style is largely triadic and minimalistic, and the “two parts” (left and right hand of the piano) are attributed to this idea.


Quartet No. 1 in C Minor (2016), for string quartet

Quartet No. 1 in C Minor is a work inspired by lyricism and expressiveness, written in a Romantic style. Ideas are drawn from works such as Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Fauré’s Élégie (Op. 24,) and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Overall, the mood is quite solemn and subdued. Much like the beginning of the String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, the Quartet No. 1 in C Minor opens with a single moving line, which gradually expands into a full ensemble. The melody itself is somewhat sequential, and recurs throughout the piece, voiced and stylized in various ways. A common element featured throughout the piece is the use of suspensions and syncopations to create a rather dramatic sense of momentum. When the cello eventually plays the melody towards the middle, the melody from Fauré’s Élégie is quoted as a counter-melody. The inspiration from Barber’s Adagio for Strings can be seen towards the end, as all four parts gradually crescendo to an extremely brilliant chord, followed by complete silence. The 2nd violin then quotes a variation of the original melody as the ensemble moves into a final chord.


Rhapsody for Piano (2015)

Premiered and recorded by Sarah Masterson, piano


Omega (2015), for saxophone quintet and piano

Premiered by the Newberry College Saxophone Quintet and Sarah Masterson (piano)

State Winner (South Carolina) of the 2015 MTNA Composition Competition