Tag Archives: Inspiration

String quartet practice yields inspiration, and better recordings too!

We had initially planned on practicing a month ago, but it was hard to get our schedules to match up and we finally met up last night. I had added a new ending to the fourth and final movement “Fast and Furious”, which we tried out. Several of us had not been playing very much for several weeks, and I was a little worried about how it would go. But I was very happy with our rehearsal, and I think we might be able to record it in the next few months.

As usual, playing music I write is often a springboard for more inspiration to write, and I decided last night to start on another string quartet. I mean, I’ve got to keep writing to improve my craft, and a string quartet is a lot less demanding to get performed than an entire symphony.

So today I opened up my laptop to actually do something else, but the last thing I had opened was my first string quartet, and I decided to just go for it. I had spent some time today just relaxing and trying to figure out what I was going to write, but hadn’t really gotten any strokes of inspiration. From experience, I know that it seldom comes that way anyway, so I wasn’t too worried.

I made a “New score”, selected the instrumentation, made choice of tempo and key signature (atonal for simplicity), and called it simply “String Quartet #2” and then I had this one idea. Just a small gesture. And as you know, a small gesture is often all it takes for a piece to get started. Now I have three phrases, and I have started. That is a good feeling, because often the first step can be daunting.

Symphony sounds

My nephew Joschija Oelkrug also writes music, and he helped me get a better sound recording of my symphony. I listened to the new audio files this morning, and though I have been through some discouragement the past few months, I realized that I was quite pleased with how that symphony turned out, and I really hope that it gets played before too long. I will upload the new files here in another post in the next few days so you can all hear it with the better sound. I especially loved the way the piccolo and flute sound in it. Not to mention the clarinets. So much better.

Fast and furious

As I started working on the fourth and final movement of my string quartet, I was reflecting on harmonic rhythm. How often you change the harmony, and how central that is to the feel of the piece. I decide to take inspiration from Philip Glass, because I have never really tried to write in that style. One thing I have noticed with his music is the usually pretty slow pace of change. There are often what you could call a drone, a repeated pattern, that goes and repeats several times before altering it slightly. I have personally thought it a successful approach to making the music enjoyable, and therefore I’m going to keep my own harmonic language, but attempting to incorporate some of his energy and determination in the way he writes into my own piece.

It’s interesting to think about how each of the movements definitely has its own inspiration, but still have the same kind of idea intermixed with the difference. I hope when you hear it, that you can hear what I’m talking about!

First movement: for sure inspired by Mendelssohn. Second movement – waltz: inspired by Swedish folk dances. Third movement – Largo: inspired by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Fourth movement – Fast and furious: inspired by Philip Glass. With the caveat that I might change the order of the two inner movements.