Melos is constructed as a cycle of 7 “solos/duets” played one after another (attacca) by the members of the string quartet. Each movement is based on a particular mode (i.e. Phrygian, Dorian, etc.) the pitched focus of each solo, however is not entirely reflective of its particular mode, rather each solo is based on the etymology of a mode. For example: the Aeolian mode represents wind-like sounds, considering this mode comes from the name Aeolus (god of the wind in ancient Greece). The cello is largely set in relief to these solos, and takes the responsibility of creating a drone during the first and last movements, as a sort of bookend. Over the course of the piece the soloistic efforts of each member of the quartet unite into a traditional quartet in the last movement.
Each solo represents a mode based on the following pitches (E/F, G, A, B, C, D, E/F), therefore the entire piece traverses the concept of a musical scale, first independently and by the end as a unit integrating the entire quartet. This is something I believe the string quartet has done fundamentally throughout history, unifying diverse elements into something complete and whole.
“Melos is a technical term that refers to the complete musical complex: words, melody, rhythm, the production of all these and their perception.”
-Johann Mattheson (1681-1764)
Concertato style: a musical style characterized by the interaction of two or more groups of instruments or voices. The term is derived from the Italian concertare, “concerted,” which implies that a heterogeneous group of performers is brought together in a harmonious ensemble.
“…for its [music’s] utility is considered not like the rest of the subjects that respect one matter or a small interval of time, but every age and the whole of life, every action should at last be set in order by music alone.”
-Aristides Quintilianus (3rd century AD)
I. Chiamata “…and my beginning my end” [1′]
scordatura violin solo + cello drone
II. Mobile [5′]
suite in miniatura for violin solo (for Jimin Shin)
III. Lucet Aurora (echo) [2′]
violin and viola duet
IV. Deploratio [4′]
violin solo “arioso e lamento” (for Gabriela Diaz)
V. Lucet Aurora “dawn shines” [3′]
violin and viola duet
VI. Eolian [8′]
violin solo “preludio con recitativo e quasi fuga” (for William Overcash)
VII. Soli “my end is my beginning…” [4′]
2 violins, viola + cello drone (string quartet)