Written during COVID-19 Lockdown.
The COVID-19 pandemic left no corner of society unaffected, shutting down schools, restaurants, and publics spaces around the world. But even with concert halls shuttered, the echoes of music continued online. For this composition, I reflected on the ways we communicate, work together, and overcome adversity. My string quartet, “Discourse,” is about how we communicate—even when the usual avenues for connection may be closed off.
The first movement, “Just the First Bit,” tries to capture the way I saw the pandemic spinning out in the early days. Musical motifs representing ideas such as a strained disconnected silence or a cry for help are echoed through the ensemble. There is a brooding uncertainty and instability, as well as rapid alterations between different ideas, mirroring the constantly changing situation we found ourselves in.
The second movement is a meditation. In lockdown, many of us found ourselves alone with our thoughts for longer than we had in a long time. This movement examines how we talk to ourselves, or how we address a higher power or absent other in times of trial and need. It is predominately quiet and reflective. It was also a way for me to receive stress during some of the darker days of the pandemic and contemplate a simpler time.
The final movmenet is a look inward at myself and at how we handled the pandemic. This crisis shone a light on some of the darkest elements of our collective society, but it also brought out incredible good. This movement is based around a single harmony built by inverting a single interval repeatedly. The single interval spins out over the course of the movenet, representing the massive impact a single aciton can have.
Though this work was written during one of the darkest periods of my lifetime, I find the final mood to be surprisingly optimistic and luminous. The devastating travesty of this virus has brought out the absolute best in some parts of humanity, and I believe that music has an integral role to play in our path forward toward a more united, more loving humanity.