String Quartet #1
for String Quartet
Written for and premiered by the Arditti String Quartet. However, the recording made by JACK is included here. The vast majority of the material used in the piece is derived from fugue themes of late Beethoven string quartets – e.g., the "Muss es sein?" Große Fuge melody and the opening motifs of both Op. 131 & 132.
The changing relationships between the four performers can be seen as metaphorical political systems comprised of leaders, followers, and dissenters. Persuading and maintaining followers increases personal power, but alliances are formed to tackle stubborn leaders. Complacency and civility are short-lived, as individuals and factions constantly, yet with often powerful subtlety, vie for control.
To complement this metaphorical compositional approach, I avoided using traditional written meter. Instead, I created a system allowing for individual flexibility while maintaining group alignment. My cuing system welcomes the gamut from complete synchronicity to complex textures, whereby up to four tempos can be sounding simultaneously (anarchy) without the need of notated tuplets or polymeters. Whereas followers are dependent upon their leader(s) for tempo and musical content, dissenters can literally challenge the leader's tempo choice, perhaps even persuading others in the process.