New music by Matt Carlson - Context
is a string trio (2 violins and cello) I wrote this spring, but I only recently received a recording of it. There's something strange about writing a piece of music and then waiting almost 6 months to hear it. It was performed in Seattle at Cornish College of the Arts in April.
The previous piece I'd done for string ensemble was a sort of rhythmic minimalist piece, which in some was I felt wasn't exactly idiomatic for strings. What is idiomatic for strings? Well, strings can hold notes for a long time, and are capable of playing different successive chords in perfect intonation. So that's the basic framework I set out to work in.
The main idea for the piece is that notes only have meaning when functioning in relationship to other notes. So chords are sounded, then notes drop out and the remaining notes that are left "hanging" sort of lose their meaning (or at least it changes). Then new notes are added which change the context for which those notes were heard, and thus their function, etc.
Also, I've always felt that dissonance is most effective when balanced with consonance so I tried to strike an appropriate balance of consonance and dissonance. Related to that, why is it a given that dissonance is a signifier of intensity or even anger and hostility? Why can't dissonance also be tranquil? So in this piece the dissonances are always played very delicately and quiet, while it is the consonant chords that are played loud and intensely.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy:Matt Carlson - Context