I composed a short string quartet based on the ideas of how we hear. I used the four instruments to represent certain parts of the hearing process. The cello represents the initial sound, creating the first note you hear and the basis in which all other instruments react to. The viola represents the ear itself as a whole, following the cello (aka the initial sound wave). The 2nd violin represents the brain sensation, following the viola (ear). Finally, we have the 1st violin, which represents the brain response, the final step to hearing: our reaction to it. The 4 respective instruments follow a strict order, starting from the bottom and going to the top. A strict rule that the composition follows is that no notes can be played without the cello playing them first, or in representation, the ear, brain sensation, and brain reaction cannot react to a sound (cello) that has not been made. A new note from the cello has to make its way up the instrument line before the 1st violin can play it, taking at least 2 beats between each part. The brain response (1st violin) doesn’t directly follow this pattern at the beginning as a way to represent that the brain’s response can occur whenever, almost as if thinking about what they heard before creating a response to it, a rule I struggled with when I was younger. And lastly, any notes played on the cello below its low G or above its high G# are not ‘heard’ by the ear (viola) to represent the human hearing range, and therefore does not make its way up the instruments. The first 2 bars are my example of showing this process, following the motif of the composition: E-A-R(rest).

One Comment

  1. Jensen Zadra Auris whuch means ear in Italian. A pretty complect piece of music and the end result was beautiful. Once you the description of the work it’s easy to hear the process by which hearing occurs. Knowing how a composition works and is made from playing the viola for about 2 years, but I don’t know as much as Jensen. When you are listening to the pice and focus on the notes you can feel parts of your brain working together to decode the pice. This is nice for it helps you better understand how the brain rescuers sound. If you listing to this pice multiple times the stages get clearer but the beauty of the pice stays the some maybe even better. Another good outcome of this piece is that it helped me focus on the response and studying for class, later on, is very calming and helps with focusing.

    Andrea Hollingsworth

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