Elegy for String Quartet

One of the things I have always loved about classical music is its ability to reach into the human soul and evoke some of the deepest, most powerful emotions we can experience, over a tremendous range from joy to sorrow, anger to terror. It’s why there are musical scores for films that so often draw on classical themes and styles: they set the tone in ways that mere visual images cannot.

I’ve added a new work for string quartet on my music page, named Elegy, which is a lament for the dead. Glacially slow — only 40 quarter-notes per minute — in C minor, it has to be the saddest piece of music I have ever written.

I don’t often dwell on sadness in my music. I love minor keys almost more than major keys, but even the darkest minor key passages have a degree of energy and hope. This piece has some beautiful harmonies, but they are all heart-breaking.

I’ve never known where the music comes from, and probably never will. It seems to have little connection with my own state of mind. But some part of me is resonating with a deep grief that wants to be expressed, and it doesn’t feel like my own grief.

Listen, and let me know what you think.

2 comments on “Elegy for String Quartet

  1. suz@thenemeths.org says:


    Listened to this first thing today and have been thinking about it all day.

    Absolutely beautiful – and as you said (okay, not ver batum), devastating.

    And yet, I am encouraged to hear a voice from you in some form that adds some depth to what we’ve had for a bit. Knew you had it, and delighted to connect with it!

    As I mentioned to you about Stephen not sure where the agitation he’s experiencing comes from, sometimes it is so much easier for those of us who love from afar and watching the movie to see – or believe we see – what plays into the emotions that have been shared.

    I hear you say that the grief feels like it comes from outside you and I believe that, yet you are the vehicle for it’s voice. We(the whole planet, I think) are in those “interesting times” of that subtle curse. The grief we all feel for good things being crushed could take no more than 40 quarter notes per minute to convey with any true heart.

    You now live in a clime sans depth of season, yet the season of the soul well out! This is the season of grief.

    Wouldn’t mind hearing back on what you think about these musings.



    • Themon the Bard says:

      I’m reluctant to tie any music I write to politics. But “politics” in the broadest sense is our communal life together as humans, and what you say is all too true. I’m on record as grieving for the death of the United States since November of 2016, two full years now, and my grief has only deepened. Underlying that is grief for the death of civilization as we know it.

      The truth is that I cannot feel grief as I listen to this music. I don’t dare. But I do know where it comes from, and you have named it.


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