Constrict-Depart, String Quartet No. 1
Green, Bradley Stuart
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Constrict-Depart is a piece for string quartet in two movements that lasts approximately fourteen minutes. The title refers to an overarching sonic theme within and across both movements that consists of the constriction and subsequent expansion of a vacillating pitch band. In addition, the form of each movement is defined by the constriction and expansion of the string registers. The title also refers to a constant push and pull between a self-imposed binary categorization of sonic materials. The binary categories of sound being explored are defined as noise (aperiodic sounds) and pitch (periodic sounds). In this context, noise is classified best as a sound or collection of sounds that offer no perceivable pitch, or a cluster of pitches (either within the same register or multiple registers) so dense that individual pitches become imperceptible. By contrast, pitched sounds would be classified as sounds in which there is a definite and perceptible frequency, or group of frequencies. In the piece, these categories of sound are set as two extremes on a spectrum, with noise on one end and pitch on the other, and are juxtaposed as extremes, and also as collections of sounds that fall between the two extremes of the spectrum. The piece is composed with the use of time frames, and the graphic notation was created specifically to allow for a greater degree of performance freedom than is generally possible with standard notation, while still maintaining a fixed formal structure that keeps the order of sound events the same from performance to performance. Each performer is to read from the full score, and the performers are instructed to realize their parts independently of the ensemble and to not attempt to coordinate attacks based on the visual relationship between their part and another part in the score (except where indicated). This independence allows for the music to occur naturally as a result of intermingling individual realizations, as opposed to general coordination.