String Quartet no II, "Étude" (2012)
This piece is an étude for the ensemble. The maniacal rhythms, quick tempo shifts, and virtuosic gestures are performed by the whole group in rhythmic unison. It requires dissection and study to insure precise execution. There is no faking this piece. It is on the one hand fragile, precarious, and on the other hand it is raw, unbridled. Among the aforementioned elements, the piece also requires the performers to execute a lot of precise rhythms using guitar picks.
Like traditional instrumental études, it is meant to refine the technical skill of the performer. It is my hope that a quartet can approach a sense of incorporation as one performer with one instrument through this process. I composed Étude during the summer of 2012 at the MacDowell Colony.
My friends, Chicago's fearless Spektral Quartet commissioned the piece, gave it several stellar premiere performances, and included it on their debut album, Chambers.