String Quartet No. 1: "Moonblood"(2005)
|Premiere||April 24th, 2005; Roulette NYC; Allsar Quartet • Amie Weiss, Erik Carlson, Miranda Sielaff, and Chris Gross|
Moonblood was the first major work I wrote after moving to NYC in 2004, and is rooted in techniques I had studied and developed during my prior four years as an undergraduate at Oberlin Conservatory, while also drawing from new experiences performing noise-based improvisation with electric guitar and electronics. It features several stylistic hallmarks that have remained central to my music in the years since, such as fluctuating timbres that give rise to an abundance of shimmering sounds, and the contrast between sections based on rhythmic pulse and “smooth time”.
My initial sketches for Moonblood were created in the late summer of 2004, using edited recordings of electric guitar, voice, and strings as source material for an electronic music track. I then wrote the instrumental parts by interpretively transcribing the electronics, as well as collaboratively improvising on top of the track in live settings. Following the Spring 2005 premiere by Allsar Quartet (the day of my 26th birthday), a first version for string quartet and electronics was performed extensively, including a fall 2008 European tour with iO Quartet and Hyperion Ensemble. Later in 2012, after experiencing Mivos Quartet rehearse the work without electronics, I recast it for string quartet alone, without making alterations to the original instrumental parts.
The form of Moonblood was used repeatedly in my works of this period, reflecting an affinity for mythological narratives of death and resurrection. Broadly speaking, it consists of an introductory section (rooted in inharmonic sounds), a first climax (rooted in pitch and rhythmic density), a section of repose, and a final ecstatic climax.
– Mario Diaz de Leon
June 2022, New York City