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 clips

On disc

Concerts

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