Embers from the Void
Vandegriff, Matthew Michael
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
Embers from the Void for string quartet and voice is a work centered around the idea of transition, specifically the transition state of death. Each moment explores this idea through imagery of landscape, season, and space or, more precisely, forest, winter, and emptiness (the void). The poetry, self-authored, was written for and in conjunction with the music. The two are inseparable. A running theme that will be apparent in the text is "what lies beneath the surface." An aspect of this theme will be present in each movement and is itself a metaphor for both literary ideas and the theoretical foundation of the music. Musically, this work is at times sparse and relentlessly singular in process. In contrast, it is at times lush and complex. Within, there are moments in which the music could be classified as minimal, spectral, atonal, and quasi-tonal. Underlying all of this is a sole foundation that is the genesis of the entire work. This work, in practically every aspect, is formed from the geometry inherent in golden arithmetic. Proportions are guided by the golden ratio. Pitch, with rare exception, is derived from the Fibonacci sequence and similar additive number patterns that are themselves approximating, with ever increasing accuracy, the golden or "divine" proportion. On the surface Embers from the Void is seemingly simple and transparent, however, this simplicity is the result of golden geometry that is intricate and other-worldly yet familiar, and this transparency is the result of crystalline structures at the foundation of that very geometry. To understand this work, one must look beneath the surface of the unassuming fa?¼ade to the glint of gold that lies beyond.