Manifestations of Newton’s First Law (2011)

Unless Acted Upon was commissioned for Firebird Ensemble by The Walden School and was premiered at Louise Shonk Kelly Recital Hall in Dublin, NH in July 2011.

Other Notable Performances:

It was played in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall by the Da Capo Chamber Players in May 2012.

It has also been performed by faculty members at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, where Mallonée was composer-in-residence in 2013.

It was played by the Guerrilla Composers Guild at the Hot Air Music Festival in San Francisco in May 2015. Watch the video of their performance here.

It was played by members of the New York Philharmonic on November 16, 2015 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn as part of the CONTACT! New Music Series.

It was featured on Present Music’s “In The Chamber” series in three performances in Milwaukee, WI in 2016.

  Duration: 8.5 minutes


  1. flute/piccolo

  2. clarinet/bass clarinet

  3. violin

  4. cello

  5. piano


Program Note:

     Unless Acted Upon is a sound representation of Newton’s First Law of Motion:  A body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force

     This piece explores several ways in which forces can affect a body in motion: friction slows a moving object, gravity makes something fall, pushing makes objects go faster, bouncing objects bounce, and a magnetic force draws objects together.  The first section, Newton’s Cradle, serves as a prelude.  A Newton’s Cradle consists of an odd number of spheres; when one ball is pulled backward and released, the ball on the opposite side moves upon impact. 

In six sections:







This piece is based on Newton’s First Law of Motion.  To hear a piece by Mallonée based on Newton’s Third Law, listen to Reaction

“Clever writing, some interesting prepared piano effects and a few bouncing ping-pong balls added up to an entertaining musical experience.” 

                (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)