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Cruel and Usual : for string quartet and four bass amplifiers

by Cat Hope (2011)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Atticus String Quartet, Sam Dunscombe from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 42.

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Ephemeral Rivers


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Ephemeral Rivers : chamber works / Cat Hope.

Library shelf no. CD 2882 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Cruel and Usual is a work inspired by an article by the Al Jazzera news service that discusses the use of solitary confinement in US prisons as incarceration rates explode in the USA. In some cases, prisoners have remained in solitary for over 38 years, or may even be children, and the reasons for going in there are not always clear or legitimate. This kind of confinement is known as 'no touch torture' by some.
In this work the string players are sampled at certain small moments of the piece, and 'translated' into much lower ranges instantaneously, which fade out or grow, and are sometimes 'distorted'. The use of drone - long notes that change very little - acts as a descriptive metaphor for the lives of these that may find themselves in these situations.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: String quartet, four bass amplifiers, 4 pickups running to Max MSP patch, sending to bass amplifiers. four networked computers to read score

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Medium — graphic score

Dedication note: Dedicated to Judith Hamman.

Commission note: Commissioned by Atticus String Quartet.

First performance: by Atticus String Quartet at Atticus (Northcote Uniting Church) on 26 Sep 2011

DOI: 10.26180/5ceb3fbba477f

To perform this piece you will need the Decibel ScorePlayer, an iPad application that puts the score in motion and coordinates the performance.


Resonate article: Insight: Drawing music by Cat Hope


Performances of this work

20 Jul 12: Arts House, Melbourne. Featuring Atticus String Quartet, Sam Dunscombe.

19 Jul 2012: at Metapraxis - Jon Rose, Atticus & Guests (North Melbourne Town Hall (Arts House)). Featuring Atticus String Quartet.

26 Sep 2011: at Atticus (Northcote Uniting Church). Featuring Atticus String Quartet.

May 11: North Melbourne Town Hall. Featuring Atticus String Quartet, Sam Dunscombe.

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