Since I started composing in college, I keep a list of possible titles and ideas for pieces I want to write – Kill Switch is one of the earliest entries in that list. Like many early entries, Kill Switch was a title from the sci-fi TV program The X-Files. After almost 20 years of thinking about this piece on and off, I finally got to write it.

Kill Switch is about defiance, and the ability of my strange band friends to maintain their individuality by defying conformity. To convey this sense of unconformity, throughout most of the piece, unison and octave doublings are intentionally avoided (although not completely), and it results in some beautifully dense tone clusters, as opposed to triadic harmony. In the climax though, all the instruments pedal the same octave unison (for the first time in this piece) in order to convey that the band does function as a whole entity; but the band immediately juxtaposes it with a highly dissonant cluster chord, which is the result of each member of the band playing the pitch he/she wants.

  • Instrumentation: concert band
  • Duration: 7-8 minutes
  • Written for Dr. Leo Sakomoto and the CSU Bakersfield Concert Band