NEWS, REVIEWS & WRITINGS

**Peppered on Parched Branches: Within the Flames**

Peppered on Parched Branches: Within the Flames

Tuesday 22nd September 2020

Scordatura: a portal to alternative timbral vivum.

It is a mechanism that is particularly unique to string instruments, allowing the pitches say, of the violin's 4 strings, to be infinitely interchangeable and alloys of open strings to be forged.

My first encounter with scordatura was through my violin's own serendipitous detuning of its strings after being left for a while in its case. When I heard this organically formed quatuor à cordes, I found its spectrum naturalistic, rococo in spirit. Instead of the uniform, classical aesthetic that standard concert tuning evokes, the scordatura recasted the violin's open strings with an intervallic structure that was asymmetric in design. This scordatura became the coloured ground for the canvas of Within the Flames.

The five brush strokes of this composition are akin to the kinesics of the Lepidopteran species: flitted harmonic sweeps, frissons of singular notes, pizzicato patterings, ricochet jitters and pirouettes of loops. Within it, a quartet of tempers: glowing, flickering, smouldering and calcining. The nonet draws a figure of a moth initially in free flight, spiralling around the naked light in a figure of 8, pulled to the flame's core.

Sophya Polevaya

Its curlicue gently uncoiled
the threads of metal,
a tetrad,
into a mirrored acanthus leaf.
The bow a sigma.

Ignited
by this double,
the pair of wings
are now aflutter.

Quatuor à cordes - Sophya Polevaya 2020