Concert 4 – Rotary Clocks and the Illusion of Time

Sunday, November 12th 2017

7:30pm – FREE

Organ Hall – Arizona State University


Jacob Adler & Crossing 32nd St. Ensemble



Jacob Adler Opus Claviblasticum  for 3 pianos, percussion
quartet, organ and open ensemble  (World premiere)


Jacob Adler, composer

Opus Claviblasticum is an hour long work for 3 pianos, percussion quartet, organ and open ensemble. The pianos are tuned to a 13-limit just intonation recipe, enabling extraordinary harmonies and scales not possible on conventionally tuned pianos. The percussion quartet produces a variety of colors with marimbas, crotales, glockenspiels, cymbals, stones, woodblocks, thai gongs, guiros, floor toms, and almglocken. The pipe organ in the ASU organ hall, built by Paul Fritts and Co. in 1992, is based on baroque organs of Northern Europe and is one of the finest tracker organs in the world. The open ensemble is comprised of diverse electro-acoustic instruments including voices, strings, winds and laptops.

The piece contrasts movements that are “in time” (clock-like mechanical sections in movements 2 and 4) and “out of time” (extended drone sections in movements 1, 3, and 5). Time is measured by the presence of a periodic rhythm, and the absence of a pulse can evoke a sense of timelessness. The composition further manipulates listeners’ perception of time with extended sections of perpetual tempo acceleration and deceleration. The exponential acceleration section in movement 4 is a rhythmic analog of the rising Shepard tone while timbres and harmonies rotate in space.

The score can be viewed here:

Jacob Adler teaches advanced rhythm and music theory at ASU and PVCC. He performs on the piano, organ, laptop, accordion, tanpura, and tsimbl in collaboration with musicians around the world. He has performed his compositions at the Issue Project Room in New York, Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Amsterdam, Musica Moderna festival in Łódź, Göteborg Organ Academy in Sweden, and other festivals in Europe and the US. Recordings can be heard at