Se contourner se conformer (2011)
Written for the Quatuor Bozzini, the title of this piece can be loosely translated as “To go around oneself, to conform oneself”. Those concepts play a role in the musical material on several different levels: harmonic material, rhythmic structure, form, the push and pull of musical tradition, the choices the performers have to make, and so forth. My goal was to work in the space on the edge of comfort, where there is enough familiarity for both performers and audience to get into the piece, but also a strong musical challenge that pushes us to the “transcendence” experience that I seek in music.
In this piece, I return to predominantly quartertonal harmonies for the first time in a few years. However, the harmonic framework also fits loosely into G-sharp minor/B major. The intent, like in much of my microtonal work, is that the quartertones go largely unnoticed by the casual listener. I build up a type of pseudo-Renaissance structure, transparent and smooth, using quartertones not to approximate just intonation, but rather to create a sort of “what-if”, alternate-reality harmonic system.