Ten Violins

Composed in 2006 for the violin students in Janet Packer's studio at the Longy School of Music, Ten Violins was written for the Generations Concert, an event that allowed students and teachers to perform together, therefore using the youngest and least experienced to the most seasoned on the same program. I wanted to create something that would interest the whole range in a single piece.

The piece is unusual in at least two more ways. First, it uses unusual notation due to the nature of the music. The sounds are all about the use of open strings, and producing either a muffled pulsing sound or harmonics by touching the open string lightly. Toward the very end of composing the piece, I realized that there was no need to indicate pitches, or even to use a staff, and that even the normal clef could be omitted. All the score tells the player is which string to use, the rhythm to be played, and where to touch the string. I figured that this would be a great way to teach students about harmonics.

The second unusual feature of the piece is that it is designed to move the sounds through the ensemble, across the stage in various ways. To emphasize the movement of sound, players are asked to fill the stage, as can be seen in the video of the piece.

Here’s a look at the first page of the score. Contact me if you’d like to get a copy of the whole score, or score and parts.

TV sample