• Emily Howard
  • shield (2021)
    (for string quartet)

  • Peters Edition Limited (World)
  • str4tet
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Commissioned by Het Concertgebouw, the Fidelio Trust, the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music (PRiSM) and the Piatti Quartet.

World Premiere 16th November 2022, Piatti String Quartet, Amsterdam (Concertgebouw)

The piece arose through close collaboration with the Piatti Quartet as we experimented with AI-technology PRiSM SampleRNN developed by PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester, as a catalyst for acoustic composition.

As part of the process, I invited the Piattis to record selected excerpts from my earlier string quartets ‘Afference’ and ‘Four Musical Proofs and a Conjecture’, alongside new materials I had written specifically for the recording. These recordings were then combined to form an audio dataset for the AI software to train on, and I then spent time with the generated audio it produced in response. The results were intriguing and I was especially drawn to seemingly bipolar abrupt alternations between music that was almost silent, glitchy, pitchless; and then suddenly full-on string quartet fortissimo complexities, impossible to notate (or perhaps just close enough for me to want to try). shield, an acoustic work, takes inspiration from these AI-informed musical gestures.

shield is dedicated to the memory of Lucy Hale.

Emily Howard, October 2022



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