STRING QUARTET NO. 3 (In-Progress)

Written: In-Progress
Duration: ca. 25'
Instrumentation: string quartet
Commissioned by the Indianapolis Quartet
Upcoming Premiere: ISU Contemporary Music Festival, Indiana State University, Tilson Music Hall, Terre Haute, IN, October 25, 2019.

Program Note (In-Progress)

String Quartet No. 3 consists of five movements that explore "other voices," either literally or figuratively. In a literal sense, speaking or singing in a way that is not considered normal could be considered strange or even a deficiency. Or, it could be deliberate and self-imposed, used for a desired effect, or even out of one’s control. Figuratively, “other voices" could mean a voice that is not one’s own. All five movements touch on these definitions in one way or another.

The first movement, Twisting and Shouting, uses musical patterns that sound like stuttering, or like someone who has a severe form of Tourette’s Syndrome. I use these sounds as a technical point of departure, incorporating jagged rhythms, erratic melodic patterns, and sudden volume shifts throughout the movement. Interestingly, people who stutter are often able to use singing as speech therapy, so I reference that later in the movement as a quasi-chorale-like moment of respite in the middle of movement.

The second movement, Poet Voice, mimics speech patterns that are often inadvertently used by poets when reciting poems. This is especially true at poetry slams, which are competitions in which poets perform spoken word poetry.

The third movement is entitled Anthem. In a patriotic yet slightly humorous way, this movement weaves together various themes from state songs from around the United States, as well as a few themes from sports team songs, and even a few national Anthems from around the world.

The fourth movement, Auction Chant, is somewhat in the style of country music, and is inspired by auctioneering, which is a rapid-fire, rhythmic repetition of numbers and "filler words" spoken by auctioneers in the process of conducting an auction. This style of auctioneering is universal in North America, but much less common everywhere else.

In the final movement, Effects Pedal, I use the sounds made by an effects pedal—and in particular, a vocal effects pedal—as inspiration, essentially treating the quartet like a rock band, but without the use of actual electronic effects. I also use musical effects that sound somewhat like swallowing helium, which raises your voice in you inhale it, or sulphur hexafluoride, which lowers it.

String Quartet No. 3 was commissioned by the Indianapolis Quartet.