An Outburst of Time

for string quartet

Phillip Neil Martin

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for string quartet

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Composer Phillip Neil Martin
Year of Composition 2004
Duration ca.12'
ISMN 9790570682676
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-pnm1aoot1


The title is taken from the book ‘A Humument’ by Tom Phillips and the work is dedicated to Cassie. The piece has arisen from several ideas relating to time, momentum, propulsion, multiple layers and lines (though the ‘line’ might be harmonic or register based rather than melodic.) In a time based art form, if ‘Consequence’, in effect creates ‘Cause’, as without the ‘Consequence’ one might never see the ‘Cause’, what manifests ‘Cause’? This question arose through the consideration of what development really is and how it would function in this piece. Does one need to be able to have the vision of the completed piece of art at its initial conception so that everything becomes a new world rather than creating, as one writes, ‘The Consequence’ to give the work of art ‘The Cause’.

This piece asks these questions and seeks a beginning of an evolution through them. The structure was originally built around sonata form, but the final shape only bears some semblance to it. The main difference is that each section of the piece is itself developmental. The ‘closing theme’ at the end of the exposition has been expanded to form a quasi-slow movement. The bass line falls chromatically through the piece from E flat at the opening down to the open C string on the Cello in the Coda. The music moves from D as its pseudo tonic during the first half of the piece to A at the transformed recapitulation. Against this the four-note pitch cells on A-flat heard at the opening fights with its equivalent pitch-set on A for supremacy as the work unravels. Motivically, the shape of E-flat G-flat F is very important as well as the major second. The work is driven, energetic, almost reckless at times, with several quieter moments of reflection.