Tetractis is a pythagoric term that symbolizes the first four decimal numbers that added up is equal to 10, the unity of the highest order. It also symbolizes the four elements: fire, earth, wind, , as well as the four dimensions (point, line, two dimension, and third dimension). In ancient Kabala, Tetractis is equivalent to the Tetragrammaton, the fourth sacred and unpronounceable letters used to name god (J H V H). The title of this composition is an excuse to go deeper into the symbolic analysis of the first four numbers, number one as unity and the origin of all things (big-bang, active masculine sign), number two as a receptive an feminine number, number three as dynamic movement, and number four as a stable and structured number. When putting together different systems in relation to the symbolism of numbers we can find contradictions, but this is what makes a complex interpretation because there are no absolutes. On the other hand, the idea of 4 as a structure that contains other intrinsic numeric relationships has become the starting point to generate this string quartet. For this reason, the work is divided in four movements: Ena, Duo, Trio and Tessera (the names of the first four numbers in Greek) and the four parts are inter related according to the genesis of this first four digits, being 1 the origin, 2 the addition of 1 + 1, the 3 the addition of 1 and 2, and finally 4, a symmetric (2+2) and asymmetric (3+1) number that contains them all.
Like in other electroacustic pieces with instruments that I have realized, my principal interest is to work on the material qualities of the instrumental timbres I am working with. In the case of strings, I could say that along with the human voice, they are the most complex existing instruments due to the quantity of non-periodic sounds that can be generated. On the other hand, the electronic sounds of the work were made starting from samples recorded from the quartet instruments (violin, alto and cello). I used mainly percussive sounds as tapping in the instruments, pitch-less attacks (Bartok Pizz toneless, Col legno toneless, etc), as well as pitch-less sounds such as toneless flautatos and all kinds of Arco molto pressure sounds. For processing sounds I used mainly convolution, different types of EQ and filtering, and granular synthesis with FOF’s.
The electronics of the piece are constituted by 4 digital tracks, with all the sounds spatialized. This is an utmost important quality of this composition, since the electronics exist in 3 dimensions, sounds moving all around the concert hall with the people in the middle of them. This is an expansion of the string instruments realized only thanks to digital media. The electronics are like a mirror, an electronic reflection of the analog instruments into a new digital dimension, the fourth dimension.
Tectractis was a commission of the Arditti Quartet through the Ernst Von Siemens Foundation.