For the summer, I will be writing a new work for string quartet for the upcoming Composers Kitchen hosted by the internationally renowned Bozzini Quartet hailing from Montreal, due to take place in June 3 – 11 2013 in Vancouver. In addition to creating a new work to be performed, fellow composers from Canada and the United States will be mentored by eminent Canadian composers Owen Underhill (SFU) and Christopher Butterfield (UVic) throughout the workshop.
The idea of writing a string quartet has been brewing for awhile. After the plethora of large ensemble premieres by various orchestras two months ago, I felt that it would be nice to turn toward chamber music for a more intimate mode of expression. The medium of the string quartet has been pioneered and championed by almost all serious classical composers from Haydn to Murray-Schafer, and is not short for repertoire. As a composer, one is faced with the perplexing problem of creating something that is unique for the ensemble while maintaining a personal integrity in the writing.
As I began sketching the first movement to my string quartet, I was struck by the similarity between the visual aspect of the dots and lines and of the visual depiction of atoms found in my high school textbooks. This observation became the central theme of the first movement of my string quartet, entitled “Kinetic Dissonance“, which explores the connection between science and music, in this case, inorganic chemistry.
Using this concept as a spring board for my musical ideas, I began to flesh out a form for my piece. I wanted to create a sense of increasing dissonance and energy as the piece progresses, as I imagined lattice bonds being increasingly agitated by surrounding atoms. It begins with all string on open 5ths, which in my eyes symbolizes the lattice bonds between the atoms. Throughout the piece, dissonance is created by juxtaposing notes from foreign pitch sets on top of the perfect 5ths. the Structure eventually breaks, giving way to a new tonal area and restarting the same process of de-stabilization. Here is a sample of the first 4 pages of the score:
The piece along with others by fellow composers selected for the Composers Kitchen will be presented at the Final Concert by the Bozzini Quartet at the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, June 11th at 7pm. (Admission is Free) Kinetic Dissonance is the first movement of my string quartet, and I am hope to complete another 2 movements to complete the string quartet this summer. I look forward to seeing you there!