Koan for String Quartet

James Tenney

Koan for String Quartet has been performed in Aarau, Albi, Basel, Berlin, Borås, Bremen, Bristol, Brno, Burnaby, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Edenkoben, Gothenburg, Graz, Guanajuato, Huddersfield, Jakarta, Kingston, Los Angeles, Montréal, Montreuil, New York City, Oslo, Ostrava, Valencia, Vancouver and Victoria…

In 1971 I wrote a piece called Koan for solo violin which was concerned with the perceptual effects of an absolutely linear and predictable formal process — involving a bowed tremolo progressing through a series of microtonal intervals on progressively higher pairs of strings. The first violin part in this “KOAN for string quartet” is essentially the same as that earlier piece, but here the other instruments of the quartet are used to provide a harmonic context — and thus a harmonic “Meaning” — for each of those microtonal intervals, within a fairly complex, just tuning system. The resultant sonorities might be conceived as a complex “chord progression” on various different roots or fundamentals. Some of these sonorities will be quite familiar to the Western ear; others are rather more “exotic”. But they are all derived by a simple extrapolation from traditional harmonic relationships.

Koan for String Quartet

  • James Tenney
  • Year of composition: 1984
  • Duration: 18:38
  • Instrumentation: string quartet
Video
On disc
Concerts
12 May 2003
PisaroTenney
In person
Düsseldorf (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany)
18 May 2003
2:00 pm
PisaroTenney
In person
Aarau (Switzerland)
12 Sept 2003
Série QB
ArnoldStieglerTenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
4 Dece 2003
GlassRizzutoTenney
In person
Dublin (Ireland)
9 Dece 2003
ArnoldBarryRizzutoTenney
In person
Gothenburg (Sweden)
10 Dece 2003
ArnoldKomorousTenney
In person
Borås (Sweden)
15 Dece 2003
ArnoldBarryRizzutoTenney
In person
Oslo (Norway)
30 Apri 2004
HeinigerRizzutoSmithTenney
In person
Basel (Switzerland)
10 May 2004
Série QB
KomorousSmithTenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
16 May 2004
8:00 pm
Série QB
JohnsonRizzutoSmithTenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
11 Nove 2004
Tenney
In person
Los Angeles (California, USA)
26 Augu 2005
GloverLawrenceLucierOesterleTenneyWebern
In person
Ostrava (Czech Republic)
18 Marc 2006
4:00 pm
KondoSzlavnicsTenney
In person
Berlin (Germany)
19 Marc 2006
5:00 pm
GoldsteinOesterleTenneyVivier
In person
Edenkoben (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)
30 Sept 2006
8:00 pm
ArnoldGoldsteinLaporteTenney
In person
Berlin (Germany)
9 Dece 2006
8:00 pm
Tenney
In person
Valencia (California, USA)
21 Apri 2007
8:00 pm
Série QB
Tenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
19 Augu 2007
7:30 pm
Tenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
12 Octo 2007
10:00 pm
NewmanOesterleTenney
In person
Oslo (Norway)
8 Nove 2007
12:30 pm
OesterleTenneyUnderhill
In person
Burnaby (British Columbia, Canada)
9 Nove 2007
GoldsteinOesterleTenneyVivier
In person
Victoria (British Columbia, Canada)
16 Nove 2008
8:00 pm
GoldsteinTenneyVoorvelt
In person
Graz (Austria)
26 Nove 2008
4:00 pm
Tenney
In person
Huddersfield (England, UK)
26 Marc 2009
8:00 pm
ArnoldTenney
In person
Brno (Czech Republic)
27 Febr 2010
2:30 pm
GoldsteinKondoTenney
In person
Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)
14 May 2010
8:00 pm
ArnoldClementiRothmanTenney
In person
Bremen (Bremen, Germany)
22 Febr 2014
1:00 pm
CageMolitorTenney
In person
Bristol (England, UK)
25 Janu 2015
1:30 pm – 6:30 pm
anonymousAperghisBeckerBleauCôtéDeromeFaubertGirouardJulien-RobertLabbéLaporteLerouxLigetiMartinPalacio-QuintinQuevillonReichRogerSanfordScelsiSciarrinoSokolovićTabassianTenneyUrban9
In person Free admission
Montréal (Québec)
29 Janu 2015
8:00 pm
ArnoldBaklaLangLizéeSieglerTenneyTopel
In person
New York City (New York, USA)
6 Marc 2015
8:00 pm
ButterfieldCageTenneyUnderhill
In person
Kingston (Ontario, Canada)
6 June 2016
8:00 pm
Série QB
SchneemannTenney
In person
Montréal (Québec)
10 Augu 2018
8:00 pm
AryadiHartantoShan BooneSutantoTenney
In person
Jakarta (Indonesia)
18 Octo 2018
MillerTenney
In person
Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)
5 Octo 2019
8:00 pm
MillerSmithTenneyWolff
In person
Albi (Tarn, France)
6 Octo 2019
7:00 pm
NiblockRadigueTenney
In person
Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis, France)
11 Octo 2019
5:00 pm
MillerOesterleSmithTenney
In person
Guanajuato (Mexico)
25 Marc 2020
7:00 pm
Cancelled
RadigueRădulescuTenney
In person
Berlin (Germany)