The Theory of Motion Consortium Info

The Theory of Motion

Percussion Quartet (2023)
Call for Consortium Members | Deadline March 20, 2023

Project Description

This Spring Austin Franklin will be composing a 10-15 minute percussion quartet entitled The Theory of Motion for percussionist Jacob Ottmer and a consortium led by him. The work is intended to experiment with several new methods of notation for achieving metric modulations, rhythmic ambiguity, and groove. Among these rhythmic devices, a notation for the famous Risset Rhythm pioneered by Jean-Claude Risset will be developed and described in the front matter of the score (more about this below). This piece will attempt to create a standard notation and common language for long form changes of tempo, among other rhythmic devices.

UPDATE: The score and parts will be completed in April 2023. The world premiere will be held at Western Oregon University in June 2023 by the WOU Percussion Ensemble. Throughout the writing process, updates of the score, MIDI playback of sections, and excerpts from rehearsals will be distributed to all consortium members and online through social media to provide status of the project.

Listen to an excerpt and see a score sample!

Fees and Deadlines

The buy-in amount for the consortium is two-tiered:

  • Tier 1: $200
  • Tier 2: $50

All consortium members will receive a dedication on the consortium credits page in the full score. In addition to the dedication, Tier 1 members will receive a complete copy of the score and all parts in PDF format. Exclusive performance rights will be granted to Tier 1 members from June 2023 to June 2024. Tier 2 members will receive a dedication in the score, a score and parts for the work, but will not be given exclusive performance rights for the period above. The score will be available for purchase after the exclusivity period ends in June 2024. The deadline for buying in to the consortium is the date of the premiere – June 5. Additionally, the score and parts will be sent to all consortium members on June 5 after payment is collected.

Submit your interest using this Google Form. Any questions may be directed to Jacob Ottmer (

More About The Theory of Motion

  • The Theory of Motion is a 10-15 minute illusory experience in rhythmic ambiguity intended to combine elements from jazz, math rock and 20th Century post-tonal music to create a kaleidoscope of rhythm and groove.
  • The instrumentation will include a small to medium sized multi-percussion set up for each performer. Pitched and non-pitched instruments will be included, and only instruments commonly found in most university percussion departments will be used. The instrumentation and difficulty level is aimed at making performances of the work as accessible to college-level ensembles as possible.

What the heck is the Risset Rhythm anyways?

The Risset Rhythmic Illusion is an infinitely accelerating/decelerating groove similar to the more well-known Shepherds Tone featuring infinitely rising or falling glissandi. In fact, the creator of both of these illusions is the same person, Jean-Claude Risset, who developed them in the 1960’s. The Risset Rhythm has not been explored to the same degree as the Shepherds tone, likely because it is an effect that is much more difficult to replicate since it requires precise timing between independent voices that are in a constant state of flux.

Listen to music for percussion by Austin Franklin below!
Rhythmic Mosaics for marimba, vibraphone, and live electronics | 2nd place in The American Prize
ImPULSE for percussion ensemble and flexible instrumentation | Published through C-Alan Publications