the city and the string quartet (2016)

I. city glimpse

II. neon signs

III. electric lines

 

the city and the string quartet is a play on words with the E.E. Cummings poem, "the city and the sea". When I write fast-paced music, my ear seems to lean heavily towards images of the city, and with that comes the jazz idiom I use extensively. Two cities came to my head between the two movements: Las Vegas and New York City, predominantly at night. neon signs is a play on Las Vegas, but primarily

the casinos within the city.

 

Because of this focus, my main melodic material was oddly inspired by the main theme of an old casino game I used to play whenever I would visit my grandfather when I was a young child. This simple pentatonic melody became the basis of the entire movement, and is not heard in its true form until the very end as it is constantly obscured harmonically or rhythmically.

electric lines was inspired by the thoughts of New York City and also by an image that I actually had hanging above my desk while I worked on this piece, titled 1001 Ways to Spend an Evening, in which I saw the fast-paced motion of cars and other aspects of the city lights as electric lines. This movement is heavily based on a melody that is constructed of tritones primarily, and is in its fullest form during the climactic sections of the movement. The other melodic material and its structure comes primarily from the Weather Report's album, Heavy Weather (mostly from the track, "Teentown"). It is not afraid to be aggressive and blatant, and I characterize the movement as "arrogant" in nature.

Bits and pieces of each of the movements are combined in a brief city glimpse, which I describe as the first and second movement's main melodic material in the context of the other.

This work is dedicated to my grandfather, Orlando Sciambi, whose many memories (and his love of jazz music) shaped this entire work.