String Quartet No.3

Jeffrey Holmes

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String Quartet No.3

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Composer Jeffrey Holmes
Year of Composition 2018
Duration ca.18'

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-jh1o1


Óss (Ansuz) for string quartet, was composed during the Fall and Winter of 2017-18. The title is from Old Norse and Proto-Germanic meaning “God”, or “mouth of river”, which is one of the many kennings attributed to a particular mythological Scandinavian Deity and his esoteric written symbol, or “Rune”. Each of the movements contain subtitles taken from ancient anonymous “Rune Poems”:

I. Óss er algingautr [Óss is aged Gautr] II. ok ásgarðs jöfurr [and prince of Asgard] III. ok valhallar vísi [and lord of Valhöll]

Óss (Ansuz) is a piece about both the esoteric Shamanistic God-figure (represented by a recurring referential sonority), and a literal portrayal of water (interpreted in various forms: first still and reflective with gentle ripples; then a more twisting and moving form; and finally in its more violent and turbulent state). The large-scale form is made up of alterations of three designs: a Prelude, two Interludes, and a Postlude; three Poly-Forms; and two Climaxes.

Movement I: Prelude, Poly-Form 1
Movement II: Interlude, Poly-Form 2, Climax 1
Movement III: Interlude, Poly-Form 3, Climax 2, Postlude

There are three motivic themes that each appear cyclically throughout the work: a repeated chordal figure; polyrhythmic linear scales; and wide-range, fast moving arpeggios accompanied by ornamentations. Other aspects of my musical language include: non-octave scales and harmonies; micro and macro rhythmic talas; formal symmetries; and microtonalities of various types (Equal Tempered divisions, Just Intonation approximations, etc.). Overall, Óss (Ansuz) is a highly virtuosic work, that traverses many textures and moods and combines abstract formal architectures with inspired drama, in its teleological drive towards a final elemental climax and conclusion.