Streichquartett (2017)
Streichquartett und Elektronik.
String quartett and electronics.
Mivos Quartett, Eclat Festival 2017


Genoël von Lilienstern – Streichquartett (2017)

While preparing to write this piece, I saw myself confronted with the sheer endless multiplicity of articulations and super expressive gestures of the string quartett.

After a while this evoked a certain feeling of an empty overarticulatednes in me.

 Agnes Martin, black 1

Agnes Martin, black 1

 Agnes Martin, 1960

Agnes Martin, 1960

I came to the conclusion that I wanted to - instead of adding to this ocean of expressiveness - create something reduced, architectonic and monotonous.
Something that should be entirely consistent and very logic, too.

Of course I know Feldmann, Scelsi, Cage and other composers who have dealt with slow developments and repetition. But the influence the most present to me by that time were the monotonous, almost depressive drones of bands like „Sunn O“ or „Les Discrets“.

The other influence was an exhibition of painter Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim Museum. Her canvases seem often almost empty. The visible forms are frequently rasters drawn by pencil. These forms seem very simple, almost boring in the beginning. But together with the very sparsely used background colors they begin to create odd perception effects, such as spatial illusions and one seems to constantly selfobserve ones own visual sense.
 




Hence the piece has two types of sections:

I) architectonic Agnes Martin sections and
II) drone sections


 

I) The Agnes Martin sections

The idea behind these sections was to create an architecture from the combination of four simplest forms: a straight line, a descending line, a periodically rising line (saw) and a periodically ascending and descending line (triangular).








Section A consists of these basic forms. This section can be seen as „thematic“.

 Section A

Section A

Throughout the process of the piece simple mathematic operations such as adding and multiplicating are applied to the basic forms. In section E for example the descending line is (mathematically) added to every element – so they are all falling.

 Section E

Section E

Section F is similar to section E but additionally the triangular and the saw forms are added to the elements – the latter causing little jumps within the glissandi.

 Section F

Section F

J consists of triangular forms added to saw forms on a static level (not descending) in countermovements - violins against va / vc.

 Section J

Section J

Composite and asynchronous operations are applied as well. In B for example every instrument plays a triangle at a different rate, added to an ascending form that stays on the same level. ( Something like ⁄¯ ) So that at first the triangular movement increases and then stays stable (except viola).

 Section B

Section B

D consists of periodically ascending or descending lines and stable tones – in each instrument repeatet at an own rate and transposed according to a very slow triangular movements in the background.

 Section D

Section D

The small glissandi in H can be seen as a fast variant of the the saw form.
In I these small glissandi are applied to a transposition scheme derived from overlayered triangualar movements. If you look closely you can still see the violins and va / vc are in countermovement here.

 Section I

Section I

R consists of one triangular form (played with additional fifth) in countermovement.

R.jpeg

This scheme is appearing twice (starting at R and at bar 299) – and each time I only proceed it midway and then go back differently. The second time (starting bar 301) the glissando/movement is executed in concrete steps who are derived from a more coarse resolutions - transforming the glissando into discrete steps.

These procedures of rasterization are the key to the drone sections of the piece.

 

II) The drones

The three drone sections are the segments G, M – P and V – Y. I wrote them later in the composition process and they are derived from slowed down, rasterised type I forms.

To show what i mean a little more in detail: The scheme for section L shows four diverging triangular motions.

 Section L

Section L

Towards the end of this section i have gradually slowed down the triangular movement (and made its resolution more coarse) until the fast scales stagnate in longer discrete notes. As visible in section M

 Section M

Section M

This is how the repetitive patterns in the drone sections evolve: Slowed down and rasterized movements.
The first two drones „manage“ to return to the Type I kind of movement. The last drone stays as it is to the end.

Together with the amplification / distortion and octaver effects the sound qualities of the drone sections form a contrast to the Type I sound sections.