New piece: Electric Guitar Quartet

This piece explores the idea of taking an arrangement for a traditional string quartet but playing the 4 parts on an overdriven, distorted electric guitar.

I started work on this project a few months ago but it was forever being interrupted with deadlines for other projects, so finally its now complete. The music started off as a serial- inspired piece for a standard string quartet, that was to be played by a Quartet due to visit Colchester. However funding restrictions really rulled out the use of a quartet in 2011, so I pondered about turning it into something else- what struck me was to arrange this for overdriven electric guitar, firstly because most of the notes were within range of the instrument, which I play, and can be multi-tracked, also I wanted to explore the accidental textures that might occur when using huge amounts of overdrive. I had written the music as a very textural piece: I obtained the notes from creating a note row from C minor but without invoking all 12 tones- so this was constrained to P-I-RI to get my notes- from there I built a series of shifting textures with these notes. hearing these on strings was one thing- but on four electric guitars might be even more interesting!

There was also an element of rebellion in my intent. I used to be a rock guitarist many moons ago, and having got into contemporary classical music, sound art, electronics etc I really fancied doing something very loud, possibly a bit rough but within the context of new music. This is not rock’n’roll, prog rock or any of these genres- what I’ve done is to take the techniques of rock music and added them to new music.

What I’ve discovered is the overtones, odd harmonics, noises etc generated with huge amounts of distortion have added layers that I had not anticipated, and texures have appeared that suprised me.

I also had to cheat in parts. Some of the orignal cello parts had to be transposed as were too low for the guitar- there are now seven string guitars which would’ve been within cello range, but I didnt have access to one.

Here is the piece

About stuartrussellcomposer

Composer/ sound artist. Electronic musician. Modern classical composer
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