Friction Quartet: universe explosion [live @ C4NM 12.05.14]

adam cuthbért
universe explosion (2013 rev. 2014)
for two string quartets + 8vb cello or bass

performed by the Friction Quartet on 12.05.14
Center for New Music, San Fransisco, CA

I couldn’t decide what to write about, so I wrote about everything that ever happened and ever will happen in the history and future of the universe. ‘universe explosion’ is a zoomed out timeline of the universe, starting with the big bang, and decreasing in speed and density, like the process of entropy leading to a universal thermodynamic equilibrium, commonly known as the heat death, the presumed ultimate fate of the universe. I thought this would be an interesting form to explore in music because the loud, energetic part of a piece traditionally comes at the end, rather than the beginning. In our own universe, the densest, fastest period was at the very beginning. In the middle, one melody occurs, which I think represents sentient life, when the universe becomes momentarily self-aware. universe explosion was originally composed for the Bang on a Can Summer Festival as a mixed chamber orchestra, with improvisatory conducting techniques for increased chaos. Friction Quartet’s double-quartet version is more fixed, which includes some of my favorite randomly-occurring textures from the semi-improvised premiere.