David Fennessy: bow your head

David Fennessy bow your head
bow your head

David Fennessy: bow your head

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for string quartet
David Fennessy
Instrumentation details:
1st violin
2nd violin
bow your head was commissioned by Enterprise Music Scotland with funds provided by Scottish Arts Council, PRS Foundation and RVW Trust. It was written for the Alba Quartet and first performed by them on 8th November 2008 at Strathdee Music Club, Aberdeenshire as part of The Sound Festival.
For A. J. McCaffrey
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bow your head

Work introduction

There’s something uniquely sensual and physical about string music that attracts me as a composer. I love the feeling I get when I hear a good violinist really digging into the bottom string in a Beethoven sonata or a cellist gracefully arpeggiating across the strings in a Bach prelude. Its not just about pitches and rhythms – there’s also something in the quality of the sound, something about the effort it takes to produce the note that gives us clues as to the musical meaning. It’s the massive difference between an up-bow with its build up of tension and a down-bow - the release, the out-breath. This piece is all about the right arm – the bowing arm.

Bow your head begins with the simplest of gestures – the bow drawn across the open strings. By adopting a special scordatura (detuning of the strings), I was able to find all the harmonic, rhythmic, dynamic and textural material I needed for the piece embedded in this one, graceful movement. The members of the string quartet are divided in to two pairs – violin 1 and cello (very much to the foreground) and violin 2 and viola (muted, shadowing). To highlight this relationship the second pair is tuned very slightly flatter than the first. As the piece unfolds violin 2 and viola gradually emerge from the shadows and a dialogue develops.

David Fennessy

Special prints

bow your head

David Fennessy: bow your head

study score
for string quartet , 15’

bow your head

David Fennessy: bow your head

set of parts
for string quartet , 15’

World première

Aboyne (GB)
Alba Quartet

Other works

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