kinetic (2016)

Four studies for String Quartet (String Quartet No. 1)


c. 6'25


Score available on MusicaNeo; preview score here

Programme note

In each of the four studies of this work, I imagine (often in very conceptual or experimental ways) how physical forces may translate into audible sound. Indeed, a concept like this could be realised through any combination of instruments. I chose to write for the string quartet because of its technical versatility (in the production of a wide variety of harmonies, textures, tessitura, dynamics), as well as the close interactions it allows between the players – a quality vital to a work as such, which demands precise coordination among the ensemble in order to be convincingly performed.

I imagine each of the players as an individual ‘agent’ passing through musical time and space, subjected to various types of ‘forces’ through the studies. In turn, they respond to the prevailing ‘forces’ based on the ‘physical laws’, and also interact with each other. Conceptually, there is a complex web of interactions and interrelations happening at any one time. The challenge for both the composer and performer, then, is to present a ‘cross-section’ of these intricacies in an elegant fashion. (On this point, it is perhaps worth commenting that despite my seemingly ‘mechanistic’ titles, I have intended for the work to be highly ‘personal’ and emotive.)

Given the limitations of my choice of ensemble (and also of the time I practically have for composing), I know there are still many creative possibilities in this rich concept which I have inevitably left unexplored. Thus, I regard my work at this stage as a ‘scrapbook of ideas’. It is ready for performance, and sufficiently sophisticated to stand alone. Nonetheless, I would still return to it with further revisions, and also use it as a foundation to expand upon, when I write future works for bigger ensembles. (It is also in this sense that I have named them ‘studies’.)