One of the pleasures of working with Yifat Cohen was being asked to arrange a string quartett. I never did this before and it wasn´t on my to do list, but it was great fun doing it. I especially enjoyed writing the instrumental interlude.
Listen to the whole track on Yifat´s bandcamp.
My approach to composing the interlude was to use the melodic phrases Yifat used for the verse and create a polyphonic structure from these. One of those phrases starts with an ascending minor chord arpeggio. I took this arpeggio of one bar length to build a harmonic sequence played by the cello:
Dm / Bbm / F
Em / Cm / G
F#m / Dm / A
A minor chord moving down a major third in parallel, then resolving to the parallel major chord of the first chord. This is put on repeat, moving up a whole step with each iteration and put to rest once the farthest chord from Dm is reached with G#m.
While the parallel movement of minor chords creates an eerie, romantic feel, the upward movement gives a sense of urgency. Direct inspiration for this was Howard Shore´s use of parallel minor chords in ‘Gollum´s Song’, but also the parallel movement of major chords used by Randy Rhoads in the tapping section of his solo to ‘Flying High Again’. Music theorist Diether de la Motte mentions the use of similar harmony in works by Schubert and Beethoven and I wanted to evoke a connection to the romantic period, make listeners feel the patina of the western classical music tradition.
On top of the cello part, the viola plays a variation of Yifat´s main vocal melody, originally of five bars length plus 3 bars pause, condensed and cut to fit into three bars here, creating an impression of dense action and sudden movement.
The 1st and 2nd violin lack the rigid sequential regularity of the cello and viola parts and variate in length, reacting to each other in some form of dialogue, adding the impresion of playful spontaneity.
The 1st violin´s melodic dominance is finally retreating into a static note while the 2nd violin moves to the foreground with some fast lines. Thematically, both are variations of a melody used in the introduction before the first verse.
Following the interlude is a reprise of the verse, this time the strings do not accompany the singing in a disciplined way, but the quartett get´s in the way of the vocal melody with different melodic elements introduced before, culminating in a unison forte section.
If you´re interested in further details of the score look at the pdf:
While using this idiom does feel like a masquerade, it was a suprisingly satisfiying thing to do.