Recent Work

intransitive verb /'swim/

1    a: to propel oneself in water by natural means

       b: to play in water

2     to move with a motion like that of swimming

3    a: to float on a liquid : not sink

       b: to surmount difficulties

4     to become immersed in or flooded with or as

           if with a liquid

5     to have a floating or reeling appearance or


-Merriam-Webster Dictionary​

TRANSPARENTUDES (can't ____ you) 

(2017) for percussion trio, ​performed by Line Upon Line @ CCRMA stage & Big Medium, Austin Texas

Traveling from my current home by the San Francisco Bay to my childhood home by the Chesapeake Bay, I captured video and audio recordings from both estuaries and in the process talked with a number of fishermen. Performers improvise with fishing songs and drift between notated and improvised material. 

These edges are boundaries that may or may not exist, as melodic song fragments are transplanted into instrumental, mechanical, and electronic "lungs." I use the hissing and popping of electronics to simulate a nervous system, and the keyboard and sinetones to support the breath-based flute melody. Throughout the piece, these instrumental voices breathe together, imitate and diverge from each other.


(2016) for SSAA choir, commissioned by Voci Women's Vocal Ensemble

followed by piano contours that either matched or mismatched the verbal segments. Participants correctly matched the melodies with the phrase segments 80% of the time, suggesting a successful translation from speech to melody.
            This piece begins with a melody stated as a sort of prime. It is then stripped to its intervallic relationships, transposed, and, finally, silenced. I wonder to what extent its verbal content be sensed through and during these transformations.

Music boxes are tiny containers of nostalgia, referencing music and memories far greater than themselves. For this project, I modified about 50 of these little instruments with grit from sidewalks and mounted them on light posts, benches, and bike racks in downtown Oakland. Collaborator Dan Gottwald built a corresponding multi-player thumb harp. 


(2014) for 7+ sustaining voices/instruments

Melodies disintegrate, distort, and evolve as sonic and visual material. As the original songs are stretched, strained, and defamiliarized, new material emerges. The process balances on the cusp of control.


(2017) for cello and synthesizer​, performed by members of Retro Disco at CCRMA stage 


(2015) installation @Megapolis Audio Art Festival

Write a letter...

In (de)attachment, I consider the emotional geography of love and loss. Through the arrangement original vocal songs, I simulate the creation and storage process of memory and emotions. The players interact with these melodies in a variety of ways including improvisation, responding to text and graphics, and performing symbolic gesture. In this way, the songs become a vehicle for experience and a release into physical space.​


(2014) for string trio and projected video, premiered by ​​Black Rock String Trio 

@Wintergreen Performing Arts Summer Music Festival, 2014

A pilot study by Herndon and Washburn (2016) showed that melodies can retain verbal content using Speech-to-Song Illusion (Deutsch, 1995). In this EEG/two-alternative forced choice task, verbal phrase segments were repeated to participants in order to create Speech-to-Song Illusion through repetition. Afterwards, excerpts of the phrase were played back, 

Follow Me


(2017) for string quartet, premiered by St. Lawrence String Quartet and Rolston Quartet


(2015) for clarinet, cello, and double bass

Performed by Gleb Kanasevich, clarinet; James Burch, cello; and Matt Kline, double bass

@soundSCAPE new music festival


(2016) for 2+ woodwinds, 1+ piano, & electronics, performed with Josh Marshall and Stephanie Neumann @C4NM, 2016 & Charlie Sdraulig and Constantin Basica @Bing Studio, 2017


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and see a complete list of works HERE


(2015) for saxophone quartet​, 

performed by:

Stephanie Neumann, soprano

Adam Hirsh, alto

Josh Marshall, tenor

Steve Adams, baritone

@Signal Flow Festival, 2015

Copyright © Julie Herndon. All rights reserved.


(2014) for treble instrument and piano,

performed with Joshua Marshall, tenor saxophone @Eureka! Musical Minds, Santa Cruz, 2015 & @Hot Air Festival, 2015

Beginning in the center and following radii outward, this score develops a bit like chutes and ladders as performers choose between elements, making their way to the outermost edge and back in again.


(2015) for flute, organ, and electronics, performed by Erika Oba and Julie Herndon, 2015

& Elevate Ensemble, 2017