Music for String Quartet
Jay Schwartz's first string quartet was intended to accompany Schoenberg's fourth quartet in the Schoenberg cycle of the Asasello Quartet. Where Schoenberg is committed to the equivalence of the using twelve chromatic tones in his music, Schwartz tries to blur the spaces between the chromatic and to remove the rigid foundation from the whole 12-tone system in which he lets the tones glide, glissandi, tones without a fixed pitch in permanent movement between the conventional fixed steps of the scale.
Instead of composing motifs, Schwartz usually works on a music that is not based on the European rhetoric - as we know it from Bach to Schoenberg and beyond.
For me, European, motivic-based music - from Gregorian to Schoenberg to contemporary music - is similar to an English Garden. The walk through the garden leaves the senses with each step new and detailed often perceive surprising experiences, colours, scents and contexts. This way of composing is based on rhetoric. The music is related to the flow of speech and the composition is made up of motifs, words, sentences and phrases as well as pauses, flexion rules, accents, etc.
My compositional process has - for whatever reason - avoided to appropriate that rhetoric. To get back to the first picture, I'd like to play my music - far away from the idea of an English Garden - as a flight over an immeasurable expanse. Maybe you could say it's a flight over the desert - whereby this formulation in no way reflects the idea of static music. This flight is a journey and has a teleological dynamic. The wide landscape in view is constantly changing organically. From the desert, over the mountains, to the sea. However, these pictures in no way denote a program. I'm just using it, to describe this non-rhetorical composing. It's not about a musical program, although one could certainly speculate about whether this way of creating music, has been influenced biographically, through my childhood and adolescence on the Pacific Ocean, and in the desert of New Mexico. (Jay Schwartz)