Over the past year I composed a piece for string quartet and electronics titled Elements in preparation for a short residency of the JACK Quartet at University of Virginia that I helped organize. The program notes for this piece read:
Elements follows the birth and death of a world through the lens of combinations of the four alchemical base elements: Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind.
The timid, then explosive formation of the Earth is followed by a presentation of the four base elements in their purest form. The base elements disappear, and as the activity subsides Water and Earth mix to form a slurry of rich, living activity. Wind returns, splitting the earth into ground and sky and catalyzing the activity of the Water into a chaotic force. The chaos builds to ignite Fire, which heats the Earth and scorches all life. A period of stasis follows, before a light haze rises, a memory of what used to be. The haze dries and falls to Earth, ending the piece.
This work consists of three layers: the material performed by the quartet, a fixed electronic composition, and a reactive, intermediary texture created through analysis of the performed material in real-time. An example of this last texture is a pizz. gesture triggering the playback of an audio file of a water droplet at a matching intensity level (dynamic, timbral valence).
This piece also makes some unique notational choices. All of the material of the piece is derived from a set of Gestures, Textures, and Transitions, the first page of which is below:
The first page of the score can be seen below, which has staves for the quartet, the Instrument Tone Extender (the interactive electronic component), and the fixed media part of the piece.
A recording of the piece performed by the quartet can be heard (and soon seen) below.