Quartet No. 1 Opus 10/14 came about during two distinctly different time periods of 1959. The variations were created during an Easter weekend in Detroit while I was at one university, and the second part in Ann Arbor while I was at another. It was only in later years that I decided that both parts formed a short quartet.
Quartet No. 2 THREE SATIRES Opus 22, subtitled “Satires,” has fun combining certain musical ingredients that, to me, were overly evident during the 1960s. The resulting music, however, is sincere. In various places one can hear such qualities as coyness, the effect of clustered insects, as well as jazz, and South American rhythms and textures.
Quartet No. 3 PARTITIONS Opus 69, subtitled “Partitions,” presents a prototype movement, with three successive movements all derived from the first. The second Partition has the entire group presenting the original violin II line. The third Partition has the entire group animatedly presenting the original viola line, and the final Partition inverts the placement of all the original lines, so that now the original cello line can be heard more distinctly on top.
Quartet No. 4 INTERLACINGS Opus 117, subtitled “Interlacings,” uses a special weaving process joining four lines. Whereas the Third Quartet featured the outer movements in textural density, here density is nearly unremitting. For long stretches of time the listener is challenged to attend to simultaneous ideas being passed around. Only at certain points in each movement do the parts join together for emphatic statements.
Quartet No. 5 AGGREGATES Opus 137, subtitled “Aggregates,” utilizes a texture that is seemingly thinner than that of the previous quartet. It is seemingly so because the listener still must process a thickness of pitch information. Here an evenly distributed melody is plotted against a lesser informational accompaniment. Harmonic density is the result of all twelve pitch classes (aggregates) being continuously circulated without a serial. Emotional contours and pitch combinations are repeated to create formal shape.
Quartet No. 6 DIGITAL ISORHYTHM Opus 215, subtitled “Digital Isorhythm,” has some structural elements that are computer assisted. I wanted to weave a pervasive motive in various guises of diminution/augmentation into differing metric positions, so as to be part of a greater texture and form. The results can be heard only in the first movement, and then only as a foil against other intuitively-arrived-at ingredients. Thus the entire movement or quartet would not be given over to machine control. (This manner of digital isorhythm is something I would have liked to explore and pursue further.)
Quartet No. 7 BACK HOME Opus 241, subtitled “Back Home,” is entirely intuitive, and hence non-verbal. Its process, be it successful or not, is to combine traditional methods of structure, taken right from mental ideation, in order to arrive at an easy naturalism.
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