Between the Ears: Requiem for BBC 3

IDEA: Physically deconstruct the instruments of a string ensemble while they play one of Beethoven's late string quartets, considered by many to be the epitome of chamber music.

WHAT: Requiem deconstructs Beethoven along with the instruments of a traditional string quartet.

WHY: Suggesting our potential palette of noises is so much wider than a violin now that it would be hard to imagine someone like Beethoven writing a straight string quartet were he alive today. It’s a requiem for the tools of the past rather than the music of the past. The piece then is about sound, about new ways of listening, about hearing a quartet through new ears, and is a call to arms for myself if nobody else not to squander the revolution we’ve stumbled upon and the new freedoms we’ve inherited.

For some time, i’ve been trying to make sense of why we’re not clearer about the recent revolution in music. We used to need musical instruments but now we can make music out of anything. Why is it never described as a revolution? It’s a huge shift in the very idea of what music is and what it can be made from. Why use a violin when you can use an angle grinder? Why use an angle grinder when you can use a branch of sports direct? Why use a branch of sports direct when you can use a forest fire in Indonesia?
— Matthew Herbert

BY: Matthew Herbert, commissioned by BBC Radio 3, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, and Centre National de Création Musicale.

LISTEN to the BBC Radio 3 recording HERE.