• Rebecca Saunders
  • Fletch (2012)
    (for string quartet)

  • Henry Litolff’s Verlag GmbH & Co. KG (World)

Commissioned by Austrian Radio, Wigmore Hall London & Arditti Quartet with support from the Ernst von Siemens Foundation for Music

  • str4tet
  • 15 min
    • 11th May 2024, Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany
    View all

Programme Note

Fletch; the feather placed on the arrow, providing the arrow with the capacity of flight; the feathered vane towards the back of the arrow, used to stabilise during flight.

ME f. OF flech(i) er f. fleche arrow. OE -flycge , as in unflycge unfledged.


Fletch is a furious ongoing exploration of a specific physical gesture and fragment of sound. In it´s purest form, this elemental sonic gesture is a flowing up-bow sul pont double-harmonic trill, often with a fast glissando, crescendo- ing rapidly out of nothing to fortissimo.

This fragment of sound is arresting, immediate and present, but also inherently unstable and unpredictable. The bow reveals again and again the fast quasi-mechanical manic trilling sound, which lies hidden beneath the surface of silence. Surface, weight and feel are part of the reality of musical performance: the weight of the bow on the string; the differentiation of touch of the left-hand finger on the string.... Feeling the weight of sound is also an integral part of the composing process. The essential materiality of sound is for me of primary importance - being aware of the grit and noise of an instrument, tracing the essence of fragments of colour within a confined and reduced palette of timbres, and exploring the physical gesture which creates a fragment of sound.