• Nico Muhly
  • Diacritical Marks (2011)

  • St. Rose Music Publishing (World)

Commissioned by Chiara Quartet

  • 2vn, va, vc
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Diacritical Marks was written for the Chiara Quartet in 2011, and is in eight short movements. I have a huge anxiety about string quartets; they are normally meant to be giant expressions of a composer’s emotional life. Here, I focused on details: a tiny dot above a letter, a tiny swivel of the bow. The first and last move- ments are energetic and driving, and the middle movements are more lyrical, rhapsodic, and/or floating. The quartet is bound together by a piece of drone music, found in movements 3, 5, and 7, in which the second violin and the viola play an interlocking repeating pattern ad infinitum, while the cello and first violin spin very long, outrageous lines on top. The piece lasts just under 20 minutes.


Diacritical Marks is used by choreographer Kim Brandstrup in the ballet "Leda and the Swan"

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