Episodes 2

for string quartet

Excerpts of a live performance of Episodes 2 can be heard at the following links:
Episode I (excerpt)
Episode II (excerpt)
Episode III (excerpt)
Episode IV (excerpt 1)
Episode IV (excerpt 2)
Episode V (excerpt)

Although there is no actual story, the movements of Episodes 2 function like the episodes of a drama. Furtherkore, one or two intervals appears as the primary musical material for each movement, with each interval being used for specific dramatic purposes. Although knowing this isn’t necessary to appreciate this music, some discussion of the intervals is included here for people who might be interested. Each movement unfolds as follows:

I (Prologue)
This is a simple introduction. It begins calmly with major seconds and then introduces the primary intervals that will be used in movements II, III, and IV (the dramatic movements) respectively. Each interval is repeated by all of the instruments so that a texture of echoes is created, but no melody or obvious chords are heard. Eventually, a single unaccompanied melody presents the primary intervals of all the movement in the order of their appearance.

II (Anticipation and Disappointment)
The subtitle of this movement describes its dramatic structure. At the start, major thirds are used to create an excited, energetic and nervous optimism, but this mood is eventually destroyed by violent dissonances and angry musical gestures. Disappointment then follows with an expressive melody. Dramatically, this movement presents the conflict that drives the entire composition forward.

III (Quiet Despair)
This movement describes the aftermath of a tragic event, or a jarring loss. The intervals of a major seventh and its inversion, the minor second, are used for expressiveness and a sense of mourning. After a climax of sadness, the movement ends with the intervals being played as a simple expression of quiet despair.

VI (Solace and Hope)
Solace, as moral support and comfort in a time of need, appears here in the form of quiet chords. Dramatically, a solo melody expresses concern or sadness and the chords comfort it. With the influence of the chords, the melody becomes brighter and more hopeful. The primary interval that begins this movement is a minor third, while the chords use perfect fifths. As the melody becomes brighter it begins incorporating the perfect fifths (or fourths, as their inversions) that the chords first introduced.

V (Epilogue)
Similar to the first movement, all of the primary intervals appear in the Epilogue. In fact, the same melody that was played in the prologue returns here, but it is first played backwards so that the brightness of the perfect fifth (originally the last interval) is heard first. Later, however, when the melody returns in its original form, a sense of tension intrudes. Dramatically, it sounds like a person contemplating past events from various perspectives. Sometimes a more optimistic interpretation is heard, while at other times a sense of anxiety, tension or sadness arrises. In the end, the melody settles on a perfect fifth (the last interval of the series) and its sense of open stability.

(performance duration ca. 24 minutes)

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