STRING QUARTET NO. 1
"String Theory" (2007)
I. C4: Variations on C
III. The Laws of Motions
IV. Murphy's Law
V. The Theory of Every-String
First Performance: February 28, 2008
University of Hawaii Contemporary Music Ensemble
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Chandra Susilo, Richard Lee, violins
Michael-Thomas Foumai, viola
James Gochenouer, cello
The String Quartet No.1 is inspired by a mathematical approach to theoretical physics known as “string theory.”
1. C4: Variations on C
“C” can be viewed as having two paths of interpretation: pitch and key. In this movement, C is varied in pitch and performance. Violins tuned in scordatura employ exclusive use of Bariolage between a fingered C and open C on what would normally be an open E string. Middle C and its location both in treble and bass clef is a pitch with dual identity. Depending on how it is viewed, it is very possible to attain all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale.
2. a2 + b2 = c2
The Pythagorean theorem is one of the earliest mathematical theorems known to ancient civilizations. Named after the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, the theorem states, “The area of the square built upon the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares upon the remaining sides.” So influential is this theorem, it has gone on to become the center of Geometry and its forerunner. Many composers have used the equation to base their works. This is not one of those pieces. This is a movement that stands to stretch melody to it’s barest component and utilizes an exercising in deriving all musical material from the pitches, A, B and C.
3. The Laws of Motion
Written in a “Glassian” style, this movement is inspired by none other than Issac Newton’s three universal laws of motion. The piece is a perpetual motion that follows the basic principle of Newton's law of motion: [Music] in motion tends to stay in motion, unless an opposing force stops that motion.
4. Murphy’s Law
Murphy's Law is a popular saying in Western culture that states:” things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance. In other words if there are multiple possibilities of doing something, and one of those possibilities will end in some sort of disaster, someone will do it that way. Likewise, this movement is game or kind of musical rubiks cube. Given several parameters, performers will use their instruments and ears in an exercise of telepathic communication.
5. The Theory of Every-string.
Inspired by a hypothetical theory that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, this final movement has nothing to do with theory, theoretically. The piece, an obvious a play on words, features arpeggiando bowing across “all the strings.” Mathematically, the theory of everything doesn’t apply here, however in the spirit of complete synthesis, it’s very possible to suspect sections taken from previous movements.
May 29, 2010: Ensemble Manoa, Millennium Hall, Osaka College of Music, Osaka, Japan
February 28, 2008: University of Hawaii Contemporary Music Ensemble, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
November 2006: University of Hawaii Orvis Auditorium, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA