String Quartet #1.4, Dancing oddly…explained

Like the 3rd movement, this movement is a bit odd, rhythmically — but for different reasons. The movement is almost dance-like, and (unlike the 3rd) rhythm IS important. But the flow of the “dance” dictates the patterns of beats. The piece begins in 3 beats per measure, but by the 3rd measure, it’s clear things have moved to 4…only to have them revert to 3 in the following measure. By section B, things are clearly 4 beats per measure (as the upper strings cascade downward), but by C…well…off we go again! The results are definitely dance-like, but in almost an improvised, skipping way.

But the most important thing that appears in this movement isn’t that first big “dancing” section, it’s the middle, beginning with section D. Here the repeated notes which started movement #1 make a grand re-entrance, along with two melodic themes from that movement. Though the themes come from that movement, the chordal feeling here is in distinct contrast (nope, there’s no fugue here!). Together with striking key changes, the light dance of the movement’s opening becomes ponderous thought, splashes of memory of past musical ideas — only to return to the dance to close things out.

Click here to see all this in action.

(By the way, I may be reviewing all of these manuscripts to better prepare them for live performance. Although the sound of the works will not change, I may change the way they appear on the page. After all, the ultimate goal is for real players to render this work, and I want them to be as comfortable translating things to sound as I can make them!)

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