FLUX Quartet: Hans Tammen’s Skeuomorph

On May 11, 2021 FLUX Quartet presented the world premiere of Skeuomorph—Hans Tammen‘s sonic hybrid of FLUX’s acoustic sounds and their electroacoustic counterparts, the result of a 20-year investigation of electroacoustic live processing. Using dynamics, textures, rhythms and timbres as primary elements, the music is continuously shifting, with different layers floating into the foreground while others disappear.

A Skeuomorph is a design feature that begins in one era but lives on in another, so the score draws from electronic music procedures to write for FLUX Quartet. A wide sonic spectrum, bizarre timbres and textures, and virtuosic flourishes are contrasted with quiet pulses and barely audible noises—which in turn are sampled, altered, and electronically transformed, to reemerge in a strange overlap with their acoustic doppelgängers. The hour-long piece is divided into seven parts, with each of the five performers (as well as the string quartet alone) featured between sections.

Tom Chiu – Violin
Conrad Harris – Violin
Max Mandel – Viola
Felix Fan – Cello
Hans Tammen – Live Sound Processing

Learn more: roulette.org/event/skeuomorph/ | Video live stream courtesy of Roulette Intermedium

FLUX Quartet has performed to rave reviews in venues worldwide, including the Tate Modern with BBC Radio3, Park Avenue Armory, Mount Tremper Arts, EMPAC, Kennedy Center, Walker Art Center, Library of Congress, Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, as well as festivals in Australia, Europe and Asia. The group’s discography includes recordings on the Cantaloupe, Innova, New World and Tzadik labels, in addition to the full catalogue of Morton Feldman’s string quartet works on Mode Records. In 2020, FLUX released a live album of the complete quartet output of Toshi Ichiyanagi, a leader of the Japanese avant-garde. Strongly influenced by the “anything-goes” philosophy of Fluxus, violinist Tom Chiu founded FLUX in the late 90’s. The quartet has since cultivated an uncompromising repertoire that combines late 20th-century iconoclasts such as Nancarrow, Scelsi and Ligeti, with today’s pioneers, including David First, Oliver Lake, Henry Threadgill and many others. Expanding aesthetic boundaries, FLUX avidly pursues interdisciplinary collaborations, resulting in acclaimed new works with choreographers Pam Tanowitz and Christopher Wheeldon, avant balloonist Judy Dunaway, digital collective The OpenEnded Group, and visual artist Matthew Barney. fluxquartet.com

Hans Tammen is just another worker in rhythms, frequencies and intensities. He likes to set sounds in motion, and then sit back to watch the movements unfold. His main projects are the Endangered Guitar, a hybrid interactive guitar/software instrument that allows to perform on up to 64 loudspeakers; the Third Eye Orchestra, a 15-piece chamber ensemble; and the Dark Circuits Orchestra, focusing on contemporary electronic music practices. Numerous projects include site-specific performances and collaborative efforts with dance, light, video, and theater. His works have been presented on festivals in the US, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, India, South Africa, the Middle East and all over Europe. He has recorded on labels such as Clang, Innova, ESP-DISK, Nur/Nicht/Nur, Gold Bolus, Nachtstück, Creative Sources, Leo Records, Potlatch and Outnow. tammen.org

This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

FLUX Quartet Photo Credit: Iannis Delatolas