Combinations for String Quartet (2003)

Tom Johnson

string quartet

Commission: Bozzini Quartet

Program Notes

The piece contains five movements, and each of these contains all the combinations of something. As usual, I wanted the music to know what it was doing, to be correct and complete in a rigorous sense, and this is one way of achieving this. The theory of combinations is a totally explored mathematical discipline, as we have known for more than a century how to calculate all kinds of combinations and probabilities, and how to prove all of this. So what I say about my composition can not have fundamental significance for mathematics. I can, however, demonstrate that new questions arrive when one wants to go inside some set of combinations, to see how they come together, to observe the many symmetries within them, to find the best sequence for them, to consider how they might sound, to turn them into music.