for four violins and four violas.
really quite difficult and rather exhausting (in a good way!), but not too hard to put together.
I know what you're thinking: "Why did you choose such a disgusting title?" I have a firm belief in the serendipity that the thing I need will find me at the right moment, especially when it comes to titles. When this piece was an embryo, I was reading a book called, Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Katz. It's a cookbook, but also a manifesto of sorts. The author has AIDS, and devotes several pages to ruminating about various implications of life and death, something which he has been forced to think about due to his circumstance, but also something in which the processes of fermentation are directly involved. I found the word "putrefaction" in this book, presented with a lack of disgust usually associated with the term. The idea of decay as a positive and necessary part of a process resonated with the idea of consonance and dissonance as part of the necessities of this octet, and so "putrefaction" became the title.
During the process of finishing and rehearsing this piece, I was reading a book on modernism called, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, by Marshall Berman. One of the central conflicts of modern life, Berman suggests, is the modernist need for progress; the conflict being that in order to progress, in order to be able to constantly remake ourselves both physically and spiritually, we must destroy. This necessary part of the process is both tragic and heroic. These ideas have played themselves out, over and over in the past 150 years or so in music as well as other arts. I suspect musicians and music-lovers have even ended friendships over the use of consonance and dissonance and which better represents the tragi-comedy of modern life. I haven't decided for myself which parts of my piece constitute the goodness of rotting (beer and cheese) or the horrors of rebuilding (eminent domain, gentrification). You may decide that for yourself.
There is no score for this piece yet because it's really complicated to make one. I've been using Lilypond and it's kinda working, but kinda not. Let me know if you really want one and that will inspire me to work on it some more.
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