Todd Harris Subito Grant 2008
Todd Harris Composer/Author/Physicist

Todd Harris
Composer and Composition/Author/Physicist

Facebook Recording Writing Musical Works Terms & Conditions Subito Grant 2008 Winning Sonology Work

Dr. Todd Harris has written music and poetry since his childhood. He lives and works in California, with his family and wife, Svetlana, a Russian Concert pianist. Dr. Harris is a commissioned composer and a research scientist, Director/Physicist at the Pacific Institute For Advanced Studies. He is completing his book on Sonology. His poems have been published in numerous books. Dr. Harris has pioneered in the development of contemporary composition. He developed the Modular Tonal system of composition and has written ten major piano concertos and several orchestral and chamber works using his new system. His works have been performed by major artists and concert orchestras.

Mr. Harris received his B.A. in Physics and Music from the University of California at Santa Barbara where he studied with composer Peter Fricker. He received his PhD. in Music and Literature from Sussex University in England.

Dr. Harris was awarded grants from the Edith Pillsbury Foundation for work on his Modular Tonal System and its application through his Piano Concerto #1. Mr. Harris is registered as a composing member of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs. He is also a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society, and is listed in "Young Community Leaders of America."
In the recent notes written for the premieres of his works in Visalia’s Fox Theatre

Harris Speaks about his Sonology Theory:
"The purpose of all of my theory is to provide the modern composer with a compass, to guide him and to ensure that he will not be left unguided when he wanders from the familiar world of tonality to the new families of notes that make up today’s aesthetic. Modulation is controlled by new and more complete rules, and its underlying principles reborn into the world of modern consonances and dissonances. The New World of today’s sound is as unfamiliar and unexplained as the sounds of Bach’s time, before counterpoint was truly formalized - where formally there were no guides through the wilderness of note mixes which were undefined by traditional or conventional means, Bach brought order and rules to work in his sonic world. Centuries later, faced with a new sound crisis, Schoenberg spoke of his rules as providing an emancipation for dissonance. Today I speak of rebirth and salvation and even re-incarnation of modulation. Our new freedom comes in a time of post-post chromatic, and serial practice. I go beyond but include memes such as traditional scales and church modes. My theory explains musical anomalies of the past, while providing directions for the future. It explains, using recent advances in Brain theory, the discovery of what makes something sonorous versus chaotic or discordant. This understanding gives the composer the ability to govern and control his materials so that he can retain sonorousness without losing personal identity. There is no sacrifice of personal uniqueness - these rules are not stone-dwelling. Rather, the uniqueness will simply sound more controlled and less haphazardly experimental. Composers will understand how to shape their Modulations so that they become a matter of inclusion, and where exclusion is necessary to preserve a desired direction of motion."


Click on the following link to hear one of Todd's Premier works
Farmers Market
, Todd Harris
World Premiere
Tracy Harris, Flute & Svetlana Harris, Piano Concert 2004


Click Here to View Poetry Notes and Samples by Todd Harris

Musical Works


- Three Rhapsodies For Flute, Piano, String Orchestra, and 4 Timpani, Op.1
- Symphony No. 1 ("Still River"), for Piano and Orchestra (for 1982 Queen Elizabeth
  Competition in Belgium)
- Western Winter, a Symphonic Piece for Orchestra, Op. 3
- Eclipse, a Symphonic Piece for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 4
- The Snow Tree, a Suite of 3 Pieces for Solo Harp (with poem),
   Op. 5 for American Harp Society
- Rhapsody For Solo Violin and Strings, Op. 6
- Harp Concerto, for Harp and Orchestra, Op. 7
- Concerto #1 for Piano and String Ensemble, Op. 12 (for Pillsbury Grant)
- Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Harp, Op. 8
- Amendments for Orchestra, Opus 9, a Piece for Large Orchestra, Modulo D
- Scherzo for Flute and Synthesizer, Op.11
- Counterpoint Modulo G, Op. 13
- Santa Barbara (3 Movements) op. 15 
- Piano Suite #1 (13 Pieces), Op. 16
- Silver Wind, for Julius Baker, Op. 17
- Scherzo for Zvi Zeitlin, Op. 19
- American Soundtracks (For Society of Engineers in Detroit)
- Modulus C for Pipe Organ for Peter Fricker, Op. 25
- 12 Works for Synthesizer, Op. 30
- Cycle for Flute and Piano Op. 32
-Symphonic Salute to American Rhythms Op. 34
- Small Orchestral Movements for IBM 1989 & Unisys 1991COMDEX
- Brass Quintet Op. 35
- Sonata for Flute & Piano Op. 37
- Symphony #2 (The New American)
- Concerto #1 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 50
- Concerto #2 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 52
- Concerto #3 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 53
- Concerto #4 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 55
- Rhapsody #2 for Piano & Ensemble Op. 57
- Concerto #5 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 60
- Suite #2 for Piano Op. 61
- Concerto #6 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 63
- Concerto #7 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 65
- Concerto #8 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 66
- Concerto #9 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 67
- Concerto #10 for Piano & Orchestra Op. 68
- Violin Studies in V for 2002 Queen Elizabeth Competition Op. 70
- Sequoia Seasons Op. 72
- Phoenix Rising - In Memory of 911 Op. 74
- For Julius - for Flute Choir (composed for 2005 Master Class)
- Flute Sonata in 5 Scenes Op. 8

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Poetry Notes and Samples of Literary Work

Poetry Notes
I have written poetry and music since I was four years old. I wrote my first symphony and my first book of poetry before my 18th birthday. My doctoral thesis concerned programmatic music and literature. Much of my poetry is experimental.

Now for a little exposition.....I do not believe that words of motion, action or relative position are necessary for forward rhythm to be affected. I set up images in my work - evocations of a time or a place which I try to relate as I picture them in my mind's eye. There is a sparing use of language as I try to isolate only those barest of words to get my image across.  I do not accept the substitution of the profane as some kind of sacred device meant to affect "modernity". 
I have for the better part of twenty years been refining theories of sonemes and phonemes in an attempt to produce poems and music which better reflect the human memes of todays technology and spirit. I avoid the usage of ugliness for its own sake, as well as artifices of pure shock or vulgarity - not because I have some religious bias, but because, to my mind, the time of randomness and of those other things has come and gone.
The lack of verbs is an analogy to music which spares the use of pivot tones - (those notes and chords which serve as the motivic devices of music from Bach to Brahms) - the works of Debussy, of the chromatics such as late Mahler, and of course, the serialists come to mind as exemplars. There can be rhythm without forced direction, just as points can be substituted for lines in visual art, or single tones can be used to connect passages with different chordal structures. In the phonemic case, I believe that still-life-s can be effectively conveyed without verbs.
The words on each line of some of my poems are of themselves statements, or partial statements, without the use of connectives. As well, some lines are meant to group words which list or define the state-of-the-scene-at-that-moment-in-time. Some are more abstract than others. This is a kind or linguistic counterpoint, which I term 'phonemic abstraction.'

For example, in the first part of my Word Sonata, Poem I, "Evenfall's Song", I could have opened with:

"County fog courted the long shadows of valley creeks
the draping mists' cloak: a slumber's guise".

Using my new style, I write:

"Shadowed vales court county fog
Misty drapes' cloak, a slumber's guise."

For illustration, see the 'Word Sonata', Poem II, with an expanded view - this second poem, Kiss, describes a kiss between two people from the vantage points of each person, one mirroring the other. Section one is the more conservative - "the One" and reflected upon by the section notated 'the Other' which exemplifies the more abstract, newer language version.

Evenfall's Song

Shadowed vales court county fog
Misty drapes cloak slumber's guise
Moistened gusts bridge rainy bows
Country cadence fading ties
Clouds, become stars' cardigans
Dusk sojourners soliloquize
Creek-side croaking choruses
Moon man's winking eyes
Sun light sets, moon's rising flight
Striped swallowtails, purplish lupin sway
Blue white earth's conservatory spread
Becalmed sails, life's sedulous sleigh
Farewell sun, warm evening's muse
Lunar connoisseurs part darkness long
Premiering night-light's opera
Careful crickets tune evenfall's song

Word Sonata Poem II: Kiss

Two Lovers Kiss - from the One and the Other
Two Lovers Kiss - the One

Lips’ edges - softened dandelion puffs
Inborn breeze ascending,
inward winds there cupped

Closed - pursed rose-burnished lips,
sewn tight, the assigning cut
Mirrored light reflecting the airy dance
between two lovers’ blush

A breathed approach, then slightest touch
rests wistful passion’s dampened crush


Two Lovers Kiss - the Other

Gentle wind's ascension cups
Once paired dandelion puffs

Ascribing quiet Nature’s glance
Mirrored lips, cast burnished blush
Airy heart's notations dance

Breathed approach, love's dampened crush

Pomender Poem

It lingers -
the scent of old petals
dry, rattling
they left their flowers long ago naked
their closet world is filled
with their presence
they will be remembered
as spring petals
soft parts
of a fragrant flower

Aging Path

Intent in want of raillery
Heart’s unkempt expanse unwept
Wind-withered, hosts unwelcome guests
Pursuing provided scant resources
Gripping, running, during rest
Perfection, youth’s great mendacity swept
While wanting colored leaf-pile baths
My Waltz grows largo, looking longer
Where just one bird could cross my path
Now two would wink and wander
Cracked crusts calm colored mallard wings
Blind boundaries both inborn have crept
So many soft sown scraps seem scattered
Too often have I slept


fulminates rainbows unrefined
cite solar dictionaries
Colorations claimed
lest left behind
nature blushed
by water faeries
White sunshine
refracts most insensibly
warm glass
convex concentrations
Crimson red
rose petaled bed
moon's tint
recanted cancellations


Summer starts
One warm sunrise.
Fall forgets
One orange leaf’s time.
Winter wakes
One early sunset.
Spring soft-summons
One seedling sublime.

Seasons celebrate
One moment’s greeting.
Sweet serenade
One quarter’s danced Moon.
Sudden surrender
One hand grasped, another releases.
Sacred cycle
One space dominant, vacated too soon.

Sincere sorrow
Bespeaks One year's
soft softer good-byes.
Silent sleep
Shares One dream
earth’s long lullabies.

Starry Eyes

When you're much smaller
short things seem taller
rather like frogs to a tree

Past our pool outside
frog jumps seemed quite wide
rather like frogmen to a sea

Fourth dimension's fast embrace
fondly caught love's twilit face
stars two frog kicks from her knee

Words of a Feather

Our spit, one bubble
Our thumb, one spot
Our stick, one line
Our sponge, one blot

Our stylus, one sun
Our quill, one '9'
Our pencil, one dot
Our pen, one sign

Our card, one punch
Our lever, one vote
Our key, one symbol
Our type, one note

Our printer, one page
Our press, one book
Our Xerox, one copy
Our camera, one look

Our mark, one letter
Our tape, one band
Our pad, one sketch
Our greeting, one hand

Our mouse, one screen
Our fife, one bar
Our breath, one sigh
Our scope, one star

At The Zoo

Hot desert sands, cold killer bees
Two foot vines, anguine inches
From far-off lands, rain forest trees
Bimestrial showers, concrete trenches

Titanic worms, gray pachyderms
Captives captivating, koalas cats
Brobdingnagian termite burms
Lions, lemurs, kangaroo bats

Lunch filled boxes, cotton candy
Full lunchpacks, electric trams
Caramel corn, crisp animal snacks
Children, souvenirs, honey grahams

Ostriches, orangutans, fur-lined hats
Jungles, deserts, airy whorls
Children's handheld habitats
Animal migrants, confluent worlds


Striped honeybees, commuting light
protecting all, procuring foods
From garden beds to homes at night
bravely banding building broods

Daisies' light, red-pollened rose
limbs soft-shadowed, warm waning sun
Zestful flights stir traveled prose
no climbs quixotic, 'til Harvest's done

Honey ripens with stiffening weeds
Spring tractors sow September's seas
Taller breezes, blossoms seed
For life's blush,
We flowers, kiss your knees...


(I wrote this because, for me, a lighter touch often comforts a world ruled by heavy hands.)
A horse trough kept cool
in a puddle of sand
a ship called Poseidon’s Cup
I could drift past the tree
a sea lad set free
never sinking I'd always float up

The cats on the land
would give me a hand
their whiskers would act as my guide
With their tails rose my oars
my shipmates would roar
their paws navigate at my side

Stowaways in my tank
beetle bugs walked the plank
leafy castaways swept out the holds
Caterpillars with coats
tossed out in lifeboats
landing safely on cheeseweed atolls

Keeping track of the tide
a green hose o'er the side
buoyed beach balls marked the lagoon
With thoughts of white caps
my neck-towel for rigging
I would sail from my porch to the moon

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*All Musical Titles and Literary works included on this site are the intellectual property of Todd Harris and may not be copied, distributed, republished, uploaded, posted or transmitted in any shape, manner or form. Unauthorized use or copying of Todd Harris' intellectual property, including all poetry, musical work, musical titles and other literary work is prohibited by law. Modification or use of the materials at this site for any other purpose than viewing shall be construed as a violation of Dr. Harris' intellectual property rights. © 2006 Todd Harris. All Rights Reserved.


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