Mp3 Blog #37: Radulescu, Absence, and Return

Horatio Radulescu:
String Quartet #4 “infinite to be cannot be infinite, infinite anti-be could be infinite,” Opus 33 (1976-1987)
For nine string quartets or a string quartet surrounded by an imaginary 128 string viola da gamba

Performed by the Arditti Quartet

Available through Edition RZ

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It appears as though I have just taken the longest break in writing entries since I started posting mp3 blogs in late May. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing a long lecture on “Time Fixtures” that I gave on Tuesday, figuring out what is needed for my doctoral applications, and resuming work on two compositional projects. I used to think that I could easily concentrate on many different things at time but, as my recent absence seems to indicate, that may not be the case.

Excuses aside, I’ve decided that I to need resume posting entries regularly and, to signify this, I might as well start off with a bit of a bang.

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Romanian composer Horatio Radulescu is considered by some to be the first Spectral composer. Despite this distinction Radulescu’s music differs greatly from the early explorations of his French counterparts such as Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Where the latter largely used techniques such as temperment quantization (i.e. quarter-tones, sixth-tones, and eighth-tones), “instrumental synthesis,” and “frequency harmonies,” Radulescu’s music concentrates on what he considers to be the ultimate sonic archetype – the harmonic spectrum.

Radulescu primarily uses the “principle of ring modulation” (when any two tone sound simultaneously the brain constructs their sum and difference tones) to derive and construct harmonies and melodies. He refers to this technique as “emanation of the immanence.” He outlines how he has used this technique over the course of his oeuvre in his article, ”Brain and Sound Resonance: The World of Self-Generative Functions as a Basis of the Spectral Language of Music” (Neuroscience and Music 999 (2003) 322-363).

His String Quartet #4 (subtitled ““infinite to be cannot be infinite, infinite anti-be could be infinite”), like most all of his music, treats harmonic spectra as the primordial archetypes of sound. It is a music that attempts to explore a deep-seated inner psychological and phenomenological drama.

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