… until someone loses and eye! Fun and Games for String Quartet

written for the art installation “Untitled” by Joel Shapiro at the Rice Gallery in February 2012 

This piece is about having fun as a quartet. Sometimes they play together sometimes they play against one another. Sections of this piece exploit the sound of the quartet as a whole as well as the sounds of the individual instruments and how sounds move from one instrument to the other. The goal is to have as much fun as you can while playing this piece.

The piece moves between cacophony and open sounds and back and forth. After the piece starts to settle down, the group begins the set of Games. For the first game, the players’ games are based on game theory, “if-then” statements, which they may never play the same thing more than once. This is very much like a card game. For the second game, the players decide which pitch collection to play similarly to a “rock-paper-scissors” game. For the final Game, the players must either Initiate or React, depending on actions posed to the rest of the group, very similar to a reaction game of slapping hands.

Just like regular games like Monopoly, these games can go on for as long as the group decides to play them. They can be very quick games or longer games. Between every game, there is a music related to the joining the group at one group of friends playing games. In the beginning, the group is very mixed, trying to decide on a game, as the games progress, they become closer and closer.

Click here to watch the video

Three Spanish Dances

Pasodoble translates literally to “double step” and is traditionally an introductory song set as a march for entrances of bullfighters. The opening is to be played stately and fanfare-like, while the clarinet presents a fragmented melody.  The two-part march begins at m. 40 and is separated by a clarinet cadenza, which sets up the bright fanfare ending of the bullfighter’s dance.

The Tango is a dance originated in Spain as “Baille con Carte” (Dance with stops).  Early Tango was considered immoral for its overly flirtatious style. Phrasing and rhythms are an important part of this tango, where the piano keeps a steady rhythm and the violin and clarinet present their respective melodies, and eventually turns to a quasi waltz then to a slower seductive motif, then recapitulating with a grandiose flair, as a dance would present at the end of the dance.

Traditional Flamenco is based on a 12-beat rhythmic pattern emphasizing the alternating patterns of 3 and 2 (1 2 3, 4 5 6, 7 8, 9 10, 11 12).  Instead of emulating a sound of Spanish Flamenco, the emphasis is on the patterns of 12 and uses therein.  The piece is based on the alternating of instrument groups and the phrasings of 12-patterns with traditional accents and rhythms.