Underwater Comet (2014-2015, rev. 202X)

for string quartet

3rd movement, "Fractal Boundaries of Night”    
Nathan Giem, violin I/  Chukyung Park, violin II/  Yoobin Lee, viola/  Haeju Song, violoncello
Stephen Taylor, conductor

Awards: Jupiter String Quartet Commission Prize (2017)

Duration: ca. 18 minutes

Program notes
        Underwater Comet picks up the place where my last piece, Psychogonia left off, which is based on the alchemical process, Axiom of Maria, a simple precept symbolizing a consecutive numerical dimension from the number 4 to 3 to 2 to 1. I employed Jung’s article, in which he used the axiom as a metaphor for the psychological development towards individualization, yet in my piece, the One-Lapis Philosophorum is not the Jungian birth of consciousness but the longing for the perfection: Anamnesis. For this I used the concept of cubic or higher order difference tones, a psychoacoustical phenomenon of how our mind hears a virtual fundamental tone when we hear two different pitches simultaneously. So the entire piece is a journey from the overtones to the unfathomable (mental) fundamental, which is physically unreachable.

        The piece begins from the stage of the Two, representing the two opposite forces, Coniunctio Oppositorum, Solis et Lunae, logic and emotion, or here the “Prelude and Fugue.” The prelude is made up with fractals-the Cantor set is mainly handled with the features of infinite recursive self-similarities and endogenous temporal flow. The fugue is treated traditionally as Baroque composers did, but in cosmic or quantum levels including diminutions, augmentations, fragmentations, stretti, and so on.
The hidden fundamental, the One-Filius Philosophorum, which only our mind can imagine is hypostasized in the third movement by the asymptotic convergence towards the untouchable D (440/3 Hz) overtone series calculated by infinitely large higher order difference tones which can be projected on the psychoacoustical screen located in the deepest abyss of the human psyche.

        The title Underwater Comet is from a vision which I saw in my dream, a still gleaming azure comet underneath my foot on the frozen surface of the sea, which can be interpreted in the same way that Jung analyzed in his book, “The Psychology of the Transference” (Die Psychologie der Uebertragung, 1946): “The sea has closed over the king and queen, and they have gone back to the chaotic beginnings, the massa confusa. Physis has wrapped the man of light in a passionate embrace.”