I’ve finally finished drafting my fourth string quartet. As with the first three quartets, I’m zooming in on a particular formal concept, teasing out a host of ramifications from a single source.

Here’s how it’s going to work:

Taking Blaise Pascal’s reference to an “infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” as a starting point, String Quartet No. 4: The Infinite Sphere will tap the potentials of Classical circular forms and techniques – in particular the rondo form and canonical rounds. The result will be a six-movement rondo structure (ABACBA) in which all of the surface details reflect the wheels-within-wheels form:

Round: Ascent
Rondo: Vivace
Round: Descent
Rondo: Presto
Rondo: Vivace
Round: The Infinite Sphere

Each round will feature an accelerating circle of fifths, gradually spinning out of control. The rondos will intertwine contemporary and traditional dance rhythms. In keeping with the spirit of the Classical rondo, The Infinite Sphere is exuberant, joyous, life-affirming.

Now that the first draft is done, it’s time to turn my attention to my fifth quartet. Hopefully I’ll have a first draft of number 5 done by the end of November – then it’s second-draft time for The Infinite Sphere.

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