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Sampo Haapomäki - Connection (2007) for string quartet

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Published on Jan 1, 2013

Commissioned by Time of Music Festival. Dedicated to Quatuor Diotima

Sampo Haapamäki (*1979) studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where he graduated as a Master of Music. Haapamäki studied with Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig. He has also studied composition with Tristan Murail in the city of New York at the Columbia University, from where he obtained his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2012.


Program notes:
Connection was commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Time of Music festival. This 12-minute work, being my first composition for string quartet, took approximately seven months to finish. The name Connection can be seen as referring to, for example, the communication between the members of the string quartet. It was very inspiring to write for Quatuor Diotima, to whom the composition is also dedicated. Many thanks to the event's wonderful musicians; Diotima's musical and technical skill is indeed dazzling! Many thanks also to LUSES, The Foundation for the Promotion of the Finnish Music.

In case the listener wants to get an idea of the theoretical starting points behind Connection, here are a few words on the gestures, registers, rhythms, and harmonies of the piece. The work takes its first steps with the developing wave gestures streaming through the whole register. The registrally extreme music of the opening contracts into a single note, approximately in the mid-point of the work. Parsing the piece from a rhythmic point of view, one could roughly divide the work into two halves, the first consisting of polyrhythmic music, and the latter half of additive rhythms. The full quarter-tone harmonies are built from the point of view pitch sets, with the exception of the spectral harmonices in the conclusion of the piece.

Connection opens with high and soft initial pitches. They get faster, more emphatic, and then collapse as an avalanche of sound to the lower register, from where the music bounces back to the heights. The same process is repeated with more noisy timbres. The gestures separated by pauses shorten, and eventually only two short notes are left. Thus, the first period of half a minute, flashes over quickly. The gestural figures are brought out with different characters, until the register contracts from the exposition of extreme registers into the repetition of a single note, approximately in the middle of the work. From this note the register opens again.

In my recent compositions, I've based my construction of rhythms, among other methods, on the concept of rhythm interval. A rhythm interval means the relationship between two independent, even rhythms. In the work Connection, I have used, among other things, certain rhythm intervals and cell- and durational rhythms based on them. By a 'cell rhythm' I mean the slowest possible even rhythm that covers both rhythms within the interval. 'Durational rhythm' simply means the duration of the rhythm interval, in other words, the spead of the meating points of the even rhythms of the rhythm interval. The most simple polyrhythm, the rhythm interval [2:3] with its cell and durational rhythms could be expressed, for example, in quarter notes, eighth notes, eighth note triplets, and sixteenth note sextuplets. With this method, changes in a rhythm intervals result in four-part writing of rhythm, where the individual lines have a specific relationship to themselves and to each other. With this kind of rhythmic texture, one can create rhythmic resolutions and processes.

The first work that I composed with full quarter-tone harmonies was Haljennut, written in 2004, and it was first performed the same year at the Time of Music festival. From then on, I've used quarter-tone harmonies in all my works both from a spectral and a pitch set point of view. In the work Connection, pitch sets are the predominant point of view. The building of pitch sets begins from the intervals; an interval is added to an interval, followed by another, until one arrives at a four-note pitch set. One of the pitch sets used in Connection is {0 1.5 3 4.5}. In this pitch set, every interval from one note to the nearest one is 1.5, i.e. the interval between a minor second and a major second.

Quarter-tone congratulations to the quarter-century old Time of Music festival!

Sampo Haapamäki


Art: Alicia DeBrincat: Elephant Playground

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