Work

Traces (1996)

Linda Bouchard

string quartet

Commission: Kronos Quartet, with support from the CCA

Program Notes

Traces is constructed in one movement, with limited material, and uses repetition and variation to extract the essence of the musical gesture. If I could explain abstraction in music, I might turn to the “traces” left by the musical material, as if one could capture the essence of the message, without fully stating the idea itself.

“Traces” starts with a soloistic role for the first violin, as in a concerto. As the piece progresses, the solo line becomes more integrated into the texture of the other instruments. While the opening is free and simple, quite open, as the score becomes denser, it turns more complex, virtuosic and rhythmical.

Some time ago, while cross-country skiing, I saw the tracks of a rabbit running in the fresh snow. Suddenly, the traces stopped abruptly and one could see the imprint of an eagle’s wings right where the tracks had stopped. The silence in the snow was startling and evocative.

Maybe, it is the traces left on us by events, not the events themselves that create our memories. This string quartet sets up musical events and then explores the “traces” left by them.