Constable's Clouds

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
6 minutes
String quartet
Instrumental parts

A short work for string quartet in four sections which follow without a break. This piece was inspired by an exhibition of Constable's works under the same title at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 28 April - 16 July 2000. It does not evoke any one picture, but more the typical images portrayed by Constable: Misty Dawn - Summer Day - Storm - Sunset.

The sound of the approaching storm is emphasised in the music by the addition of the flat seventh to the three primary triads. This is strictly the note with frequency ratio 7/4 to the tonic, as in the seventh natural harmonic. However, in the tempered scale, it can be taken as 1/3rd of a semitone below a major seventh. It is less harsh than a major seventh and it is therefore used freely without preparation.

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