Constrict-Depart, String Quartet No. 1

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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


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.