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i ain't broke (but i'm badly bent) (2009)

for string quartet - 17'


In 2005, I inhereted a banjo. Since then I have been absorbed in learning about music associated with the banjo --New Orlenas jazz, old-time, bluegrass, and Celtic to name a few. Most of the tunes I encountered while learning to play bluegrass banjo were fiddle tunes either American or Celtic in origin. More recently I have been studying fiddle tunes and techniques and travelled to Cape Breton to learn about the fiddle tradition of the island. This piece is a result of my initial interests in the fiddle. The piece is broken up into thirteen separate fiddle tunes taken from many fiddling traditions. I try to honor the traditions while experimenting with contrasting textures and techniques. For example, in the opening measures the quartet plays dissonant, atonal chords in traditional tune-opening fiddling bow patterns. In The Day Dawn and Chinquapin Hunting the fiddle tune becomes textural instead of melodic. In Red Haired Boy the tune is broken up between each of the four instruments. In addition, a few of the tunes borrow elements from related traditional instruments. In the Isle of Mull the cello plays a bagpipe tune and in Shady Grove the quartet imitates a clawhammer banjo. In my work, I seek to borrow and comment on elements of folk music while preserving its heart and soul.

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