Three Sarabandes [PDF Score]

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For string quartet

Humans have short memories, but we are great archivers. The survival of a musical score over hundreds of years facilitates deep histories of influence, but disconnected from aural tradition it raises more questions than it answers. The impermanence of sound is a challenge to both individual and collective cultural memory and the loss of information over time is unavoidable—even from one moment to the next. As elements are forgotten, new elements are brought in to fill the cracks, giving way to transformation.

Having undergone a series of transformations over the course of 500 years, the Sarabande provides an eloquent example: It began as a raucous dance in the Spanish colonies of the new world and morphed into a slow section of the instrumental dance suites of the late baroque. Today it is an antique, its historical context imagined and reimagined. Or maybe it is undergoing another transition.

These three Sarabandes meditate on the long history of the Sarabande and its transformation over time as details are lost and replaced, guided by our imperfect yet resourceful human minds. Loss can happen in an instant or over a century. And meanwhile, the physical reality is that sound waves exist forever, they just keep floating further out.

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