Navigations for Strings (1991)

Alvin Lucier

string quartet

Commission: Hessischer Rundfunk


Program Notes

Navigations for Strings (1991) was commissioned by the Hessischer Rundfunk (German Radio). Musically it consists of 4 tones, for which a long stream of continually changing melodic and instrumental combinations occur. As the players move through the combinations, they raise and lower the pitches in imperceptibly small increments, some smaller than the human ear can hear. As the size of the interval contracts, the players gradually lower the dynamic level and slow down the tempo, allowing the sounds to lengthen like shadows and recede into the ambiance of the room. Because of the closeness of the tunings, audible beats are heard at speeds determined by the distances between the pitches.