by Steven Lamphear

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[This download includes a PDF of the full score.]

This piece, composed between September of 2010 and April of 2011 while studying with C. P. First at the University of Alabama, was largely inspired by early twentieth-century French Impressionist composers and their depictions of the sea. For this piece, I decided not to utilize the “musical painting” techniques which those French masters had used to such great effect, but to explore the concept of erosion through musical transformations. This piece therefore develops in an almost programmatic way, with masses of consonant sonorities and recurring motives being chipped away at by recurring dissonance in much the same way that, for instance, the constant barrage of waves on rock can alter natural coastal topography over time.

The beginning introduces the different “characters,” as the listener hears large, consonant masses of sound (soon to be fully realized in the A section) struggling to form under the constant assault of dissonant forces. Eventually the consonant masses are fully realized as the A section begins. The listener may also hear the germinative motive of the piece (an ascending fifth, filled in by the stepwise ascent of a third followed by a leap of a third) struggling to form; it is hinted at through the sul pont. notes in section A before finally asserting itself through the first violin of the first quartet in measures 39-41. This motive is spun out through the B section with only hints of the dissonance to come (created by the temporal displacement of voice-leading resolutions) before we begin to see the dark undercurrent swelling in the next section. The entirety of the C section (built around a 12-tone row) resembles the formation of a large, dangerous wave, which crashes into the D section, leaving the consonant harmonies from the A section disfigured (the bass voice and direction of motion are similar, but the harmonies have become dissonant, tritone-based sonorities rather than the consonant harmonies heard previously) and the main motive warped (the fifth has now been stretched to an octave, and the half-step in the middle is no longer going from scale degree 2 to b3, but now from 4 to b5). Following the climax of sections D and E, the motive itself has become part of the waves, which dissipate into the G section, wherein a new, consonant sound-mass emerges, heralding the conclusion of the piece.

–Steven Lamphear, April 2011


released October 28, 2017

Composed by Steven Lamphear

Recording Credits:
Julia Sakharova: All violin parts
Melanie Rodgers: All viola parts
Craig Hultgren: All cello parts


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Steven Lamphear Madison, Wisconsin

Steven Lamphear is a composer, performer, and software developer living in Madison, WI. He has received degrees from UW- Madison (MS Computer Science, 2017), the University of Alabama (MM Composition, 2012), and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (BA Music Technology, 2007). ... more

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