Broken Contours

Asko Hyvärinen

Broken Contours has been performed in Montréal and Reykjavík…

Is it possible — or permitted — to use melodies in contemporary music today? Most of the composers have answered the question negatively, but at the same time their music tells something else. Same kind of inconsistency has come out when tonality has been the topic of discussion. In my string quartet Broken Contours the central concepts are melody and tonality, taken in a very broad sense. The musical material in this piece is based on 12 different kind of melodic contours, some kind of archetypes — or skeletons — of melodies. These contours appear mostly in the 2nd violin, the viola and the cello parts, and sometimes also in the 1st violin part, which was written last of all (the piece is originally written for a string trio, and there also exist another version of it for string trio and clarinetist). In this piece the sounding material is subordinated to produce those contours. The length of the contours varies from semiquaver to several bars. The central concepts in the piece are: 1) directions and shapes of the melodic contours — instead of motives or themes —, 2) vertical constructions created by a combination of them, 3) virtuosity that arise from the continuously changing playing techniques, 4) thinking of sounding objects instead of notes and whole tonality of the instruments.

Broken Contours connected very closely to the large chamber ensemble piece Spring Contours (2001), which is like Mother of the “Contours Family”.


Broken Contours

  • Asko Hyvärinen
  • Year of composition: 2002
  • Instrumentation: string quartet


10 Octo 2006
Reykjavík (Iceland)
12 Dece 2006
8:00 pm
Série QB
Montréal (Québec)