Recorded live. June 12, 2016. Constellation Chicago. Spektral is Clara Lyon, violin. Austin Wulliman, violin. Doyle Armburst, viola. Russell Rolen, cello.
(Extract from an interview with Spektral's Doyle Armbrust. For the full interview click HERE)
DA: What did you set out to say or explore, when you began writing Decals II for us?
TGS: I wanted to write something that would explore as much of Spektral’s expressive range as possible. Other than that, I don’t remember having a specific prompt or project when I begun drafting for Decals II. If anything, it started as most of my recent projects start: as a game trying to setup some kind of self-sufficient musical narrative. This game usually involves choosing a few elements (durations, pitches, motives…) and spinning them through simple permutational strategies.
It is after the piece is finished that I sometimes connect the work with a larger aesthetic project or to some autobiographical feature. This usually happens as I free-associate trying to find something worthwhile to be mentioned in a program note.
DA: One of the things we love about your music is the intermingling of traditional melody/harmony, and new music techniques. How are these two elements talking to each other in this piece?
TGS: Thanks! Yes. That intermingling that you mention has increasingly become a recurrent feature in my music and Decals II is a quite drastic enactment of it. In the score I ask the quartet to play different motives in the piece recurring to performance habits of some particular style. This feature is extended to other parameters beyond the, so to speak, “playback preset”. The treatment of pitch, rhythm and timbre is also imported from diverging but specific compositional practices. Regarding traditional melody and harmony, I find pleasure in toying with the referential energy sonorities of common practice music bring to the table. They provide an expressive point of reference with which to interact.