CoincidentScott L. Miller & Zeitgeist

, composer


Composer Scott L. Miller releases Coincident, a collection of works exploring the potential of telematic collaboration (musicians playing together via remote technology) and graphic score notation. Featuring performances by Twin Cities based Zeitgeist ensemble and Miller himself on electronics, Coincident is a continuation of Miller's restless creativity in mining the possibilities afforded by innovations in technology in music.


Coincident (the work) is a telematic, multi-episode, audio visual collaboration with new music ensemble Zeitgeist (Heather Barringer, Patti Cudd, Pat O’Keefe, Nikki Melville), video/installation artist Carole Kim, spoken word artist Joseph Horton, and Cara Tweed and Nicholas Diodore from the ensemble No Exit. Coincident was commissioned by Zeitgeist in May 2020, the first work produced as part of Zeitgeist’s DECADE FIVE commissioning series. Coincident was developed, recorded, and released episodically over the course of 2021. The development process led down different paths, forks along a trail of artistic inquiry informed by the central themes of communication, isolation, and distance, themes that guided the exploration of different technical and aesthetic strategies for telematic collaborative creation.

Each artist participating in the creation of Coincident (both the composition and the album) performed from their home studio, connected by software that preserves audio quality while reducing latency (time lag due to the internet connection and distances the sound must travel). Because latency is reduced, but not eliminated, the music on this album embraces asynchronicity; individual events can occur at different relative times without compromising the musical idea.

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Miller was first inspired in his approach by the sci-fi genre of space opera; epic, galaxy or universe spanning stories that necessarily involve long periods of isolation, unfathomably long distances, asynchronous communication and latency, all impacted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The fact that there’s a universal speed limit—the speed of light—means that at best we merely have the perception of instantaneous, synchronous communication. At a certain point it is largely coincidental. Introduce enough latency by inserting enough distance between transmitter and receiver and the perception of synchronicity collapses. The connection to our situation in 2020 was obvious with collaborating members across 21 time zones in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Zealand.

A key part of the creative process in Coincident was finding strategies addressing the technical challenges of latency and potentially glitchy audio. Miller employs musical processes allowing individual performers to produce music based on local information, free from typical synchronous expectations, and coordinates performances with shared events that can’t be synchronously experienced. These strategies use ancient approaches to process music; by seeking inspiration from imitative and contrapuntal traditions, Miller creates a polyphony of truly independent voices mediated by a latent/asynchronous communication system.

He works with timbral material that masks or is sonically-adjacent to the glitches and distortions inherent in audio signals transmitted over the internet, and programs synthesis and digital signal processing designed to fail over time through use. And his scores are realized in graphic notation and as animated music, incorporating collective improvisation to varying degrees, from tightly controlled to structurally free.

Several of the compositions on the album are not part of the Coincident project, but were developed alongside and in artistic conversation with it. These coincidental works include pieces from two graphic score collections, Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 (tracks 3, 5, & 7). hARvest is notated as an animated graphic score visible via augmented reality, geolocated on the Barringer Family Farm in Wisconsin for its premiere. A corresponding smartphone app allows users to view the animated score while listening to the recording of Zeitgeist’s performance. MKHP is from a collaboration with Pat O’Keefe begun in 2018 but only fully realized in 2021. MKHP also has a corresponding smartphone app, but one that generates an audio-reactive AR sculpture.

More details about the works and artists on this album, the Coincident project, and related AR apps can be found at,, and

– Scott L. Miller

This album was made possible in part with support from a St. Cloud State University Mid-Career Grant. MKHP supported in part by the American Composers Forum through the 2018 McKnight Composer Fellowship Program. hARvest was created with support from a St. Cloud State University Research Grant

Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 © Scott L. Miller (BMI)

Track 1 © Scott L. Miller and Joseph Horton (BMI)

Track 6 © Pat O’Keefe and Scott L. Miller

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Scott L. Miller

Art and design by Scott L. Miller

hARvest ios App:

MKHP iOs app:

hARvest app Google Play store:


Scott L. Miller

Scott L. Miller (1966) is an American composer, best known for his electroacoustic chamber music and ecosystemic performance pieces. Inspired by the inner-workings of sound and the microscopic in the natural and mechanical worlds, his music is the product of hands-on experimentation and collaboration with musicians and performers from across the spectrum of styles. Three time McKnight Composer Fellow, recordings of his music are available on New Focus Recordings, Innova, and other labels, many featuring his long-time collaborators, the new music ensemble Zeitgeist (whose albums he produces). His music is published by the American Composers Alliance, Tetractys, and Jeanné. He is a Professor of Music at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, where he teaches composition, electroacoustic music and theory. He is Past-President (2014-18) of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S. (SEAMUS) and presently Director of SEAMUS Records.


Lauded for providing “a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurous concertgoers”, ZEITGEIST is a new music chamber ensemble comprised of two percussion, piano and woodwinds. Always eager to explore new artistic frontiers, Zeitgeist collaborates with composers of all types to create imaginative new work that challenges the boundaries of traditional chamber music. The members of Zeitgeist are: Heather Barringer, percussion; Patti Cudd, percussion; Pat O’Keefe, woodwinds; Nicola Melville, piano.

27 Dec, 2023

New Focus releases highlighted in year end lists

New Focus titles were highlighting in several 2023 best of the year lists: Alex Ross's Notable Classical Recordings 2023 list in The New Yorker - Claire Chase: Density 2036,” Parts VI, VII, VIII: works of Olga Neuwirth, Pamela Z, Phyllis Chen, Sarah Hennies, Liza Lim, Matana Roberts, Wang Lu, Ann Cleare; Claire Chase and various collaborators (New Focus) - George Lewis, “Afterword”; Joelle …

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Gapplegate Classical Modern Music

Composer Scott L. Miller has in the past few years done some of the most interesting Modern music out there. It is not capitulating, nor is it a rehash of earlier ways so much as a new offering that sounds like the future again, promisingly. (Type his name in the search box for previous reviews.) So today there is his latest, COINCIDENT (New Focus Recordings CD FCR 337).

The objective on these eight movements for electronic synthesizer and chamber ensemble is to do something in furtherance of telematic music, or in other words in this case multipart music with live chamber ensemble and the composer on remotely constructed electronic synthesizer part with the software program Kyma.

The opening Coincident Episode 5 has a nice part for intelligently poetic and punky vocal that sets the stage for the other seven heady movements that follow. It is all a specially sonic inventiveness and nicely co-occurring whole that piques the aural imagination and satisfies the wish to plummet ahead to the musical future. Very recommended.

It is yet another feather in the Miller cap, showing us decisively that he is one of our leading voices in High Modern expansion.

— Grego Edwards, 2.18.2023


An Earful

Miller has been a favorite ever since 2020, when I discovered his questing ways on Tak Ensemble’s marvelous recording of Ghost Layers. Since then, he’s never failed to fascinate, whether on a witty yet tangled album with UK ensemble Rarescale in 2021 or the “kicky fun and otherworldly atmospherics” of last year’s collaboration with a toy pianist and a trumpeter. As with the Rarescale album, much of Coincident was recorded telematically (i.e. online and across distances), with composer and players recognizing that not all latency issues can be solved by the current technology. Instead they embrace the overlaps and missed connections, leaving the listener to just soak up the results.

Across the album, we get a great variety, whether meditative, spaced out duos for Kyma (Miller’s electronic instrument of choice) and clarinet (Pat O’Keefe) or startling, theatrical stunners like Coincident 5, which features spoken word artist Joseph Horton alongside Miller on Kyma and Zeitgeist players Heather Barringer, Patti Cudd (percussion), O’Keefe, Nikki Melville (piano). At the end of the track, which opens the album, when Horton exclaims “Go to the fringes! Go there!” it feels like a course has been set for the album to explore the unknown and bring back these marvelous sounds.

— Jeremy Shatan, 7.17.2023


Take Effect Reviews

The Minneapolis composer Scott L. Miller aligns himself with the Twin Cities outfit Zeitgeist for these experimental, electroacoustic pieces that were recorded through remote technology, and it makes for a technical, aesthetically exciting 8 tracks.

“Coincident Episode 5” opens the listen and makes an immediate impression thanks to Joseph Horton’s mysterious, often wordless vocals and Pat O’Keefe’s well timed bass clarinet in the unpredictable climate, and “Exit Velocity” follows with Nikki Melville’s playful piano and Cara Tweed’s moody violin complementing the percussion acrobatics from Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd.

At the halfway point, “Coincident Episode 4” benefits much from Miller’s kyma manipulation in the droning, intimate landscape, while “Sonata II” places Melville on piano and Miller with kyma for a sometimes sparse, sometimes rumbling album highlight that focuses much on tone and mood.

Approaching the end, “Sonata III/Sonata IV” is a charming percussive track with Barringer and Cudd making much deliberate noise in an ambient versus nature-esque fashion, and “hARvest” exits with the percussion, clarinet piano and kyma spreading out over 14+ minutes of dynamic, distanced interaction.

Part avant-garde, part chamber and entirely creative and iconoclastic, Miller and company make for a captivating and unparalleled listen that explores telematic collaboration superbly.

— Tom Haugen, 7.22.2023



New Music often involves novel conceptions of how to make music, which is a key factor in this album of small-ensemble works by Scott L. Miller. Faced with the isolation of 2020, Miller devised a long-distance collaboration he calls “telematic.” The performers worked from their home studios connected over the Internet. Something similar was occurring in other places without the telematic nomenclature. But Miller’s process-centered notes make much of intergalactic distances in the genre of space opera, along with time boundaries imposed by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Leaving some heavy conceptualization aside, in practice Miller and his far-flung collaborators in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Zealand worked together experimentally with strategies of synchronicity, asymmetry, latency (time delay in transmission over the internet), and graphic notation of the music. He places an emphasis on the technical challenges involved which no doubt fascinated him, as both an electronics composer and performer, but listeners are necessarily presented with the results, however interesting the process might be.

Rather than being entirely together or apart, the performers were coincident, which gives the title of the project commissioned by the Twin Cities ensemble, Zeitgeist, and the album its name. Coincident the project was released in episodes over the course of 2021; here we get Episodes 4 and 5. Zeitgeist and Miller appear in both, while voice artist Joseph Horton is prominently featured in Episode 5, singing and speaking snatches of prose, and what sounds like electronically massaged vocalizing. The music’s texture is jittery and highly refracted into individual overlapping gestures. The acoustic aspect provided by Zeitgeist consists of a clarinet, piano, and two percussionists.

For the listener, the soundscape is too complex and dense to grasp one event at a time; what is asked for is the kind of immersion required at an art installation. Ordinary aesthetic measures are irrelevant. What’s true of Coincident as a piece is also true of Coincident as an album. Unexpected sounds are mingled on their own terms, which may or may not be structured, improvised, unrepeatable, or chaotic. Extended instrumental effects are popular in current New Music, so it isn’t unexpected when the clarinet emits yips and scraping sounds.

I don’t want to give the impression that Miller’s inventiveness is one-dimensional. There are pieces like MKHP, where electronica dominates in a mesmerizing, static duo with a bass clarinet, and others, like Sonata II, scored for piano and electronics, where conventional piano notes and chords are featured. Miller’s imagination is intriguing as well as versatile, and no work here lacks interest once you enter its specific soundscape.

Two other projects, simply titled Spring 2020 and Summer 2020, give us pieces that employ graphic notation, although the listener is unlikely to distinguish by ear which these are (Piano Forte I, II, and III, Sonata II, and Sonata III/IV). Contrary to expectations, there is no piano in Piano Forte I, II, and III—it’s a duo for clarinet and electronics.

Because it set out to accomplish a tactic for collaboration in circumstances of isolation, along with the loneliness and frustration it brought, Coincident is very meaningful for the performers. Listeners need to be devotees of the experimental side of New Music, I’d say, although these works are absorbing enough to draw in general listeners with adventurous tastes. There are rewards here if you are attuned to Miller’s technological aesthetics but confused bafflement if you aren’t.

— Huntley Dent, 7.22.2023

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