String Quartet 1931 (Crawford Seeger)

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Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet (1931) is "regarded as one of the finest modernist works of the genre".[1] The composition is in four untitled movements.

First movement[edit]

The first movement is a twelve-tone study. Melodies are interspersed with fragmented lines in all of the voice parts that pile up upon one another.

Third movement[edit]

According to Crawford's analysis (requested by Edgard Varèse), and others', the third movement is a sound mass composition in which a single composite melody line consists of successive tones from the different instruments.[citation needed] This is accomplished through the equality of the instruments, indicated by their cramped register and the frequent vertical crossing of their parts, legato bowing (with dotted slurs indicating preferably inaudible bow changes), and the gradual crescendos and decrescendos which are staggered among the instruments, meaning that one instrument is at its loudest while another is at its quietest. Each voice climbs over the top of the others as they move to the movement's highest dynamics, register, and climax, at which point they "break apart" or split into a four octave range created from triple-stops on all instruments.[1][not in citation given]

Fourth movement[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hisama, Ellie M. (2001). Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon, p.4. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-64030-X.