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Merge/Emerge : for string quartet

by Paul Cutlan (2013)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by The NOISE from the CD Composed noise

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Composed noise


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Composed noise / The NOISE string quartet.

Library shelf no. CD 2503 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

One challenging aspect about composing a work for improvisers is that it feels 'unfinished' when it is complete - the composer has to approach the creation of the work with a trusting, collaborative outlook. In this case, I have the good fortune of being familiar with the styles and strengths of the group I am writing for. As such I have tried to imagine what each player's input may sound like and to create spaces and opportunities within the work which hopefully will excite their imaginations.

The title Merge/Emerge refers to the way the main melody slowly forms from a 'primordial soup' of pitch material, before dissolving again. The pitch material is initially presented in a sort of glacial chorale, which is slowly improvised by the quartet. When the main theme does emerge, it is cast in the mold of a lyrical, neo-classical melody, accompanied by a regular pulse. Some bizarrely jazzy secondary melodies, formed from the same 'soup', function as a foil to the earnest nature of the main theme. The concepts of rhythmic pulse and unmetered chorale texture provide fertile subject material for music which endeavours to traverse a wide spectrum between fully notated and practically fully improvised.

Work Details

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 15 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Ability to improvise is necessary; ensemble coordination requires good knowledge of the score and agreement/awareness of how to cue each section

Commission note: Commissioned by The NOISE with funds provided by Australia Council.. Commissioned by The NOISE string quartet, for inclusion in their CD Composed NOISE.

First performance: by The NOISE at Composed NOISE (Cell Block Theatre) on 8 Oct 2013

Important note regarding reporting of this work for royalty purposes: Each time this work is performed or broadcast, it must include a subtitle which denotes the ensemble performing it, as this effects who receives a share of the royalties. Royalties will be distributed according to the following formula: Paul Cutlan 60% Player 1 10% Player 2 10% Player 3 10% Player 4 10% In the case of The NOISE, the work is to be reported to collecting societies as Merge/Emerge The NOISE version. Each time a new ensemble performs or records the work, the ensemble should contact the composer to make sure all the performers are registered as the co-authors of their version according to the above formula, and this version will be registered as a seperate work for royalty purposes. Contact the composer via email or via the Australian Music Centre


Resonate article: Insight: Improvising and composing for The NOISE by Paul Cutlan


Performances of this work

21 Jul 18: Sound Lounge, Seymour Centre, Chippendale, NSW. Featuring Liisa Pallandi, Lachlan O'Donnell, James Eccles, Oliver Miller.

8 Oct 2013: at Composed NOISE (Cell Block Theatre). Featuring The NOISE.

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