Score (fp) 0-571-56572-7 and set of parts (fp) 0-571-56573-5 on sale
My String Quartet No. 15 is based upon a sequence of songs belonging to the Simori mountain people of Western New Guinea. In his book, Music in New Guinea (1967), the Dutch ethnomusicologist Japp Kunst describes these songs in some detail. For the most part, the descriptions given by him dictate the structure and scalic material of each movement of the quartet.
The work consists of five short movements, played almost without break.
The movements are:
I A Song for Dancing
II An Exorcism
III A Song for Mourning
IV A Love Song
V A Cry of Joy
It should be said that String Quartet No. 15 does not set out to imitate Simori music. Rather, the work is a personal response to it. Unlike the Simori sequence of songs, for instance, the five movements of the quartet are motivically related. Falling minor thirds, heard at the very outset, are especially harmonically related; and the harmonies that I employ are characteristic of my present style. Also characteristic are figurations suggesting the Indonesian gamelan, as well as rhythms associated with northern Australian Aboriginal music. Both can be found in the traditional music of New Guinea.