Published by
Project 440

Alex Mincek

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String Quartet No. 3: “lift – tilt – filter – split"

Performed by the JACK Quartet

"One of the more salient features of this quartet is the use of what I can best describe as “sonic fields.” A sonic field is a network of musical gestures perceived most immediately as a generalized musical texture. However, over time the listener is able to bounce back and forth from the recognition of the unique parts and the undifferentiated whole. Unlike the use of melody, these fields have very little to do with the representation of language. A sonic field is more analogous to the physical, visual, or tactile. It is like a droplet and the rain, a grain and the sand, a tree and the forest, or any other quasi-fused sum that can be recognized as either one or many. So, instead of expressing narratives with melodies that relate to patterns of speech, or to the grammar and syntax of written language, this piece uses successions of various dynamic textures to represent complex interactions as they relate to shape and movement.

The piece also features many ambiguities in the cause and effect relationship between physical gesture and audible structure. For example, if the player slides a finger the length of the fingerboard while pressing the string, we hear a continuous glissando. However, if the player performs the same physical task, while lightly touching the string instead of pressing it, we hear a discontinuous series of harmonics (there are many other examples). The question that arises is which resulting structure best represents the nature of each physical gesture? By exploring such ambiguities, it is my hope to demonstrate the futility of succinct classification."

To Nowhere from Nowhere

Performed by the Wet Ink ensemble.

To Nowhere From Nowhere is an exploration of the musical space in which pure difference mingles with complex sameness. More specifically, the piece is a catalog of various forms of repetition. Since it is actually impossible to truly repeat anything verbatim, one could also say that the piece is a catalog of various forms of difference.

 The piece unfolds as a series of seemingly unrelated musical blocks, some banal and vulgar, others more novel and refined. The goal is the creation of a musical form that so constantly subverts expectation that the arrested flow establishes its own organic continuity. However, some aspects of the piece are more linear, perhaps best represented by the voice’s journey from mechanically constrained utterances to humane, free-flowing song.