String Quartet in Four Parts (1949-50)

John Cage

string quartet

  • 1. Quietly Flowing Along
  • 2. Slowly Rocking
  • 3. Nearly Stationary
  • 4. Quodlibet

The subject of the String Quartet in Four Parts is that of the seasons but the first two movements are also concerned with place. Thus in the first movement the subject is Summer in France while that of the second is Fall in America. The third and fourth are also concened with musical subjects, winter being expressed as acanon, spring as a quodlibet. Throughout the work the tempo is constant, but pedominant quantities change from movement to movement. The composition,a melodic line without accompaniment, employs single tones, intervals, triads and aggregates requiring one or more of the instruments for theri production. These constitute a gamut of sounds. The strings played without vibrato and those to be used for the production of tones are specified. The rhythmic structure is 2 1/2, 1 1/2, 2, 3, 6, 5, 1/2, 1 1/2.

Performance