Last modified 6 July 2015

Ariadne's Thread (1994)
(String Quartet and Computer generated sound)

by Roger Reynolds

Ariadne's Thread arose out of a longstanding interest in line, whether evoked as sound or inscribed graphically by such masterful hands as those of Sengai, Klee or Rembrandt. Continuity, directionality, inflection, intensification, rarefaction, whimsy, even violence are subsumed in the manifestations and depictions that line allows. Ariadne's Thread was written for string quartet and also computer generated sound – that supports, augments, alternates with, and occasionally replaces the instrumentalists' efforts, expanding the range of what an unaided string ensemble can accomplish.

Elements from the myth inform the piece – the Minotaur's vertiginous rage, the number seven, and the strategy of surreptitious substitution, and Dionysus "in the wings" – but, after all, it is not meant as illustration. Having composed two earlier works that address the quartet tradition, I allowed a less reasoned obsessiveness to invade this one, a mental state requiring a particular sort of unanimity.

Ariadne's Thread was written for the Arditti Quartet, and premiered by them in Messiaen Hall at Radio France on 2 December 1994. The work was jointly commissioned by Radio France, The Florence Gould Foundation, and Les Ateliers UPIC. The computer materials were realized in Paris at the UPIC studios and assembled at the University of California, San Diego, where Timothy Labor was my musical assistant (Michael Theodore was the musical assistant in the quadraphonic version.).

– Roger Reynolds