for alto sax and three percussionists

Written: 1989
Duration: 15'
Instrumentation: alto sax and three percussionists
Premiere: Student Recital, Richard Wyman, saxophone, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, April 15, 1989.
Publisher: Robert Paterson Music (ASCAP)
This work is currently unavailable.


Man is slowing is being overtaken by machines; they are beginning to possess a life of their own. Androids, humanoids, computers, four-wheel vehicles and other machines are weaving their way into our lives in both obvious and subtle ways. People in developed societies depend on them for their lives. As hypothesized in many science fiction books and films, our massive expansion of technology will eventually create machines that have free will: they will be able to think, feel and will have the power to ultimately destroy us. If too many are given the power of reasoning, they may decide that we need to be terminated; we are creatures with many flaws.

Humanus Ex Machina is a work about the hypothesized, eventual downfall and deterioration of humankind resulting from being overthrown by machines. The three percussionists represent the machines and play both traditional percussion instruments and “found objects” such as computer floppy disks and brake drums. Humankind, represented by an alto saxophonist, senses that man is about to be wiped out by its own creations and triumphs over them with the greatest weapon of all, the human mind.