Eolian refers to the mode that is today commonly known as the Aeolian mode. The nature of this piece stems from the complex history of the Aeolian mode (all modes in general) and its etymology, mainly dealing with the concept of wind and erosion finding its roots in the name of the Greek god Aeolus “ruler of the winds”. Structurally this solo is based on the prelude and fugue model of the baroque era. The opening prelude presents a sound world that is interrupted by wind-like gestures, and is in part inspired by the instrument known as the Aeolian harp, an instrument placed outside or at an open window whereby the strings are put into motion by wind alone. The concluding recitative and quasi fuga (canonic fugue) never fully generate into a traditional form, rather an antiphonal call and response between pitched dyads and wind-like gestures takes place, which is further eroded over the course of the piece. Eolian is part of the Melos Cycle for string quartet, in which a series of solos and duos are performed one after another (attacca), each based on a mode and the concept of its etymology and complex historical utilization.
Eolic “…was fittest for lyric verses, as having a particular sweetness mixed with gravity.”
-Brossard Dictionary (1703)