I wrote Shudder in 2014-15 when I was first studying with Julia Wolfe. I was really interested in elevating texture as a material for composing, and I based the piece on an abstraction of the physical phenomenon of sleep myoclonus: the phenomenon of involuntary twitches or jerks which most often occur while we fall asleep or undergo anaesthesia.
When I was a child I experienced hypnagogic myoclonic jerks quite often while I was
drifting off to sleep. I would have the stomach-flipping sensation of falling. . . before suddenly jerking awake, and finding myself just where I’d been, flat on my back in bed.
When I was writing the piece I thought of these movements as interruptions in overarching, woven structural processes, punctuated by bolts of energy — or shudders.