Separation Songs is a haunting hour-long continuous work for two string quartets. In it, composer-performer-music technologist Matt Sargent systemically juxtaposes and weaves together an array of 18th-century composer William Billings’s hymn tunes, subtly altering certain aspects of them via real-time-generated variations as the piece unfolds. “Ever wonder what two centuries colliding sounds like? Listen to Separations Songs.” (Robert Carl)
The composer writes, “Throughout the piece, hymn tunes come and go, passing from one quartet to the other. As tunes reappear, they filter through a ‘separation process,’ whereby selected notes migrate from one quartet to the other. This process leaves breaks in the music that either remain silent or are filled in by stretching the durations of nearby notes, generating new rhythms and harmonies.”
Matt Sargent’s music has been described by critics as “a powerfully organic experience” (Sequenza21) that is “so simple, so natural, and yet sets up a complex set of interactions” (SoundExpanse) as it “uses bare resources to establish a bounded and essential space” (The Wire).
Separation Songs will be performed by LA’s celebrated new-music scene stalwarts Eclipse Quartet (which just recorded the piece for the Cold Blue Music label) and friends, which will include the Aperture Duo and others. “The Eclipse [Quartet] is LA’s answer to 20th-century and present-day music.” (HuffPost)