Glenn Stallcop       Composer, Performer


Alt Shift (2023)

for Flute, Clarinet, violin, Viola, cello, and piano

3 Mvts., 26 Mins.

Episodes is available from American Composers Edition ( and may be ordered here .

Program Notes with Score Video 

When it comes to philosophy, I am a firm believer in “what you see is what you get,” or as Alan Watts would say, “This is it!”  But though living in the present moment is widely proclaimed, it is, as it turns out, not all that easy to accomplish.  It not only takes well honed levels of concentration and attention, it is, at least on the surface, not all that exciting.  Our tendency is to become more interested in life paths that are more stimulating.  So I decided to write this piece which focuses on some of these alternative lifestyles that most of us, including myself, find more attractive.  The title is an analogy referring to a keyboard, where ALT and ALT SHIFT are the keys you push to access the characters that are not visible on the keys.

Each movement explores a different popular alternative lifestyle. The first movement, Tether, refers to a lifestyle in which one’s experience is filtered through strong-held beliefs or firmly held principles.  The tether being so strong that it affects everything the person experiences.  In the music, the tether is represented by the low gong-like sound (often a perfect fourth) in the piano.  The piece both begins and ends with this sound, and it appears regularly throughout. 


The second movement, High Wire, is about a lifestyle full of adrenaline.  It is a dance movement that is roughly based on the Mexican dance rhythm known as a huapango, but I don’t think anyone will mistake it for mariachi music.  It is very lively, adventurous, and even a little risky.


The third movement, Fantasia, is about the plunge into fantasy of all sorts, reading, video, video games, role playing and/or make believe, that has become such a common pastime.  It employs non-vibrato chords and swirling effects to try to create a somewhat mysterious and unreal atmosphere.  It is a voyage of adventure and excitement, but is all good-natured fun and ends with a joyous coda.


This work was written for a concert on May 9, 2024 with the chamber collective, Urban Nocturnes, and is the first piece in their repertoire that includes all six members.