Blue Traces (2009)

piano and computer (stereo or 4-channel sound)

Stereo mix available on John Gibson: Traces (innova 896)


and on Music from SEAMUS, volume 21.


View score excerpts: piano version, piano+strings version [PDF].
(scores available from American Composers Alliance)

Download the Max patch.

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Kati Gleiser, piano

Performance of Blue Traces by Kati Gleiser at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, October 10, 2013.
For higher resolution, visit here.

Kati Gleiser, the pianist for whom I wrote Blue Traces, told me about swimming in the ocean at night and marveling at the colorful glow cast from bioluminescent plankton. Moving your arm through the water disturbs the plankton, and in response they set off a bluish trail of soft light. This image gave me the idea for the piece: the piano plays, and the computer creates gently glowing traces of sound. Near the end, everyone becomes more agitated, as if the swimmer were now splashing around and the plankton reacting with more excitement.

The piece exists in two forms, as a duo for piano and computer, and the same duo supplemented by a string orchestra.


  • Keith Kirchoff, Facebook Live concert, 4/3/20
  • Miquel Ausina Moret, Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, 9/16/17
  • Ahmed Anzaldua, Bullock Performance Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, 3/25/15
  • Kati Gleiser, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, 10/10/13
  • Keith Kirchoff, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 4/16/13
  • Keith Kirchoff, Columbus State College, Columbus, Georgia, 4/5/13
  • Keith Kirchoff, Hope College, Holland, Michigan, 4/4/13
  • Keith Kirchoff, University of Hull, Hull, England, 2/22/13
  • Keith Kirchoff, Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire, England, 2/19/13
  • Mei-Hsuan Huang, Lipa Festival of Contemporary Music, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 10/9/12
  • Kati Gleiser, Holographic Ensemble (string orchestra), dir. Ben Bolter, Russian Recording, Bloomington, Indiana, 3/9/2012
  • Kati Gleiser, Holographic Ensemble (string orchestra), dir. Ben Bolter, Bloomington High School North, 3/8/2012
  • Jihye Chang, BEAMS Electronic Music Marathon, Brandeis University, Boston, 4/30/2011
  • Kati Gleiser, SEAMUS National Conference, University of Miami, Florida, 1/21/2011
  • Kati Gleiser, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, CUNY Graduate Center, 3/27/2010
  • Kati Gleiser, Faculty Recital, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, 11/17/2009
  • Kati Gleiser, with string orchestra, dir. Marcello Cormio, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, 11/15/2009

Here is a screenshot of the Max patch. (Click to enlarge.)