A New Song of Many Faces for In These Times (2002)

Malcolm Goldstein

string quartet

Commission: Quatuor Bozzini


  • 1. A Gently Flowing Song
  • 2. A Brutal Song
  • 3. An Agitated Song
  • 4. A Song of Inner Vision — Coda


Program Notes

The string quartet is a linear structure af variations, completed by an extensive coda; four aspects - I. a gently flowing song; II. a brutal song; III. an agitated song; IV. a song of inner vision that are variant perspectives of a song which is itself never heard, each rendered by one of the instrumentalists in sequence. (The “song” itself can be thought/imagined as a composite of these four variations, perhaps only to be perceived by its numerous aspects.) They are responded to with a coda consisting of a melody (source originally being a hymn tune, “The Sweet Bye and Bye”, that was transformed by Joe Hill’s words into an IWW song, “The Preacher and the Slave”), along with source materials from Ives and Beethoven, that leave the door open for questions. A more complete title of the piece might me: “A New Song of many faces for In These Times, with a coda, the Same Old Song needed to be heard again and again”. The music is a structured improvisation composition. The overall structure, as well as the process within each song, is preset and performance materials and techniques are clearly outlined. The element of improvisation then becomes the process through which all of the musical materials are realized by each of the musicians, moment to moment, in their own way within the framework of the composition.

This music was made possible by a commission from Qatuor Bozzini, with a grant support from the Canada Councll for the Arts.

Malcolm Goldstein