At last I’ve written a string quartet. It feels like the final hurdle I had to jump; perhaps now I can call myself a real composer! Because isn’t the string quartet the most mythic ensemble, the site of a composer’s greatest musical density? Beethoven. Bartók. Janáček. Maconchy. Haydn. Schafer. Ligeti. Crawford. Ferneyhough. Etc. Regardless if it was only one quartet, or whether it was 16, each composer invested the project with their musical essence.
I wrote Trip this past February, after thinking about it for over a year. It’s written using an approach I started using at the end of the 90’s, where pitches are serialized but durations are arrived at by chance operations. Each instrument has its own row, durations are determined and joined to pitches, the results are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. This material is then shaped dynamically and temporally. It’s in four movements, 3 strongly related harmonically, and one not. It’s dedicated to my sister Joy, who died in 2006.