for ‘cello and percussion


6 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

Commissioned by and dedicated to Inbal Segev as part of the 20 for 2020
Recording Project.

Version for percussion and ‘cello commissioned by Ensemble Offspring, Sydney.


Purchase the cello and percussion version from Project Schott New York



The phrase “The Pleasure at Being The Cause” was coined by German psychologist Karl Groos. It was his conclusion from a study on why children play. To Groos, it’s quite simple—as humans, we love to take pleasure in putting something else into the universe and for it to have a predictable corresponding effect.

This phrase was in my mind when Inbal Segev asked me to write a piece reflecting upon the experience of living through a pandemic year, locked down in my apartment and mostly unable to see friends, family, and colleagues. Among all the terrible losses for so many people, I thought about a simple one: about how I missed stumbling through duets with my friends

Groos’s idea of the pleasure of being the cause seemed to me to be one of the core joys of playing music, particularly duets: each moment is determined by one player relating to the other. And so I wrote a brief piece for cello and vibraphone reflecting on this idea. It opens with the simple sound of freely bouncing the bow on the string. This bouncing sound (the cause) is then imitated by the vibraphone (the effect). As the piece proceeds the roles of cause and effect change from moment to moment, but each player’s role throughout is tightly bound to this simple idea.