Petroglyphs are images carved into rock surfaces, usually associated with prehistoric peoples. Representing one of humankind’s oldest art forms, petroglyphs can be found all over the world. Many of them contain depictions of people, animals, and daily activities, as well as geometric shapes and patterns. While looking for inspiration for this project, I was drawn to petroglyphs not just within the context of the images themselves, but of their physical qualities as well. There is an inherent textural element about them due to the rough surfaces upon which they are engraved. The pictures tend to be distorted with bumps and cracks, and many have become weathered over time. It is the gritty and primitive characteristics of the carvings that I sought to capture with my composition. Often during the piece I create static harmonic fields that represent a backdrop onto which more vivid musical gestures appear. The harmony is derived from a variety of sources, including disjunct combinations of interval-class 1, clarinet multiphonics, and intuitive processes. The general compositional approach I took was to first write out every sonority to occur in the piece before organizing it rhythmically and metrically.
Performed by Jay Campbell (cello), Anna Heflin (viola), Haley Gillia (violin), and Sophie Kass (B-flat and bass clarinet).