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Four Miniatures

for modified string quintet

2023

The first notes for this set of miniatures stemmed from the rhythmic quantisation of the phrase “How long, O LORD, will this happen?”, a lament I had frequently in 2020, with the pressures of blending into a new environment alongside the pandemic and its associated inconveniences (hence, the reference to Schoenberg's stormy Second String Quartet in Mvt I). This idea developed into what would be a different (shorter) version of this quintet in late 2020, with second viola used instead of third violin. I initially titled that version “2020”, but retitled it “Examinations” dedicating it to Singaporean students, as I was studying for my Promotional Examinations then. Interestingly, the musical “intensity-time graphs” are similar for both titles.
For this version, written after the hectic battle of the GCE ‘A’ Levels, I expanded most of the subsections to entire movements and experimented more daringly. Also, to further relate the music to my life and heritage, I quoted some familiar tunes (keep a lookout)!
The music begins with a canon-chorale (I - Passive Revision) evoking the ‘low-fidelity’ mood of late night study sessions, followed by fast, dissonant variations (II - Getting Nervous), indeterminacy resulting in a sound mass (III - Nightmares), and comedy inspired by the M.O.Z.A.R.T Group & 2CELLOS (IV - Relief at Last).

Four MiniaturesTjan Yi Xuan
00:00 / 05:46
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