Issuu on Google+

Joy. Even Against Night. – for String Quartet (2010) The movements of the piece are intended to capture elements of a woman’s struggle against a deadly illness. The first movement juggles the anxiety of the diagnosis and treatment (active sixteenth note material) with nostalgic reflections on happier times and love (breakaway and slower sections). The second movement is intended to capture the brutality, unpredictability, and turmoil of wrestling with the notion of being at the face of death. The third movement signifies the end of life and uses musical symbolism to represent the division of cancer cells. Throughout the opening section, each of the parts is like a separate starter cell, and the groupings of notes expand. First there's one, then two, then four, then eight, just as the doubling of cell division. The pitches were determined solely with the Fibonacci sequence, which by quirk of mathematics produces a repeating set of pitches when you follow through it far enough, and then that was transposed or retrograded to fill out the four voices. It's a process that carries on independently and which must be accepted or surrendered to when treatment no longer works. The loud chord at the end of this process is the climax of this division and then a quintuplet accompaniment announces the imminence of death, the final chords sounding as a flat- lining electrocardiogram. The last movement is a reawakening in the afterlife, with the texture created by the 2nd violin, viola, and cello intended to create a sort of fuzzy angelic light field. The fiddle tune is a setting of a fragment of text from an anonymous saying that was included as the close of Jean Harrap’s eulogy. The melody is a setting of "If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again."  


Joy. Even Against Night. (Program Note)