String quartet no. 2: by-products of mass media
As early as 1996, I began envisioning a string quartet in which the ensemble intersected with various dimensions of popular culture in an organic way. I sought to re-imagine the historic ensemble as descendant from 20th century media, relaying the psychology of sound and image imported from commercial cultural ghettos. More recently, as I began to compose, my original concept was further informed by the writings of media theorist Marshall McLuhan. I have attempted, in part, to portray McLuhan's transformational world, in which mechanized production and history fade away to be replaced by iconic references, psychological and intuitive will, and tribal collectivism.Movement I imitates the block structures, collage, and "static-frantic" aesthetics of rave music. During the movement, each part loses its individual identity and is assimilated into an unrelenting, unified gesture. Movement II depicts recitative forms that appeared to me during several minutes of channel surfing. Here, collage is drawn from the interplay between simultaneous rhythms of speech and music interrupted by the "click" of a limited attention span. Movement III, in an analogy to online surfing, asks each performer to create a private arrangement of the popular spiritual, "I'll Fly Away." While the parts are somewhat traditional and even nostalgic, the unifying presence of a centralized structure is significantly diminished; there is no score for this movement. The collective result is an intuitive, abstracted impression that remains imminently and timelessly accessible.
- Music