Science Fiction Music
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This piece is a kind of science fiction. It imagines a future in which things work a bit differently than they do here and now, a future in which this piece is widely loved, its sensibility appreciated, its craft revered.I have built the piece’s harmony using eighth-tones, pitches that divide the octave into 48 equal parts rather than the standard 12. In this vastly expanded pitch space, familiar chords coexist with wildly unfamiliar harmonies, and players’ instruments are rendered unfamiliar technology. Like any science fiction, this piece is about the past and how it might hopefully become a more appalling and embarrassing future. It includes three time capsules, each about 5 minutes long. The first, titled Torch Song, features two slow-motion phrases for string quartet: two Beethoven bobbleheads shivering with fury. The second movement, Honor and Fidelity, sees the full ensemble chart a course from the romantic aspirations of the string quartet to a brief and sneaky dance. The final movement, Shipwrecks on the Shore of Meaning, is accurately titled.