string quartet #1

String Quartet #1 is a 15-minute spoken-word performance for an ensemble of four performers, examining ideas of transcription, redaction, sound, and silence. The work draws on the presentation style of a string quartet (chair formations, dress, and music stands) to dissect the boundaries between rehearsals and performances, sounds and silences. There are no actual stringed instruments present in the work.



String Quartet #1 was created in residence at the Arnolfini Gallery (Bristol, UK) as part of the event Sound, Silence, and Listening: An Afternoon with Christine Sun Kim.


During the work, four performers enter, bow, and take a seat at four chairs in a semi-circle. When the piece begins, each performer reads from a separate script featuring only their part. Lines are triggered at specific times but performed at varying speeds. Conversation is deconstructed, allowing clouds of words and phrases to create their own rhythm. Meaning emerges and retreats.


The text in the work is a direct transcription of a rehearsal by the Obsession Quartet from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The musical content is removed, leaving gaps of silence in the performance. During these silences, the original musical composition is absent, allowing the audience space to reflect on previous musical descriptions.
The work can be re-staged with transcriptions of any string quartet rehearsal.