Hypsotony (1989)

Jo Kondo

string quartet

Commission: Almeida Festival


Program Notes

The rather pedantic title of this piece is of my coinage, made from the Greek words for height and tone, although I am not so sure whether such a neologism conveys the meaning of “raising sounds” as was my intention.

This short piece for string quartet is characterized by an intentional limitation in the use of its sound materials. The performers are instructed to play every sound in such a way that, after beginning each note at the stated pitch, they have immediately to start raising it gradually, until they reach a pitch one quarter-tone higher by the end of its notated duration. This pitch raising in each individual glissando should be an interval of a quarter-tone or a little more, but in any case less than a half a tone.

Hypsotony was written in 1989, under a commission from the Almeida Festival 1989, London, and premiered by the Arditti Quartet in one of the festival concerts.