C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

D0 note (18.35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

F0 note (21.83 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

G0 note (24.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

A0 note (27.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

Chen, Yeung-ping: Sonic Engraving 



Basic information

  • Title: 
    Sonic Engraving
  • Subtitle: 
    Fugue of Distances
  • Composer: 
  • Duration (in minutes): 
  • Year of composition: 
  • First performance (year): 
  • First performance (venue): 
    University of California San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall
  • First performance (performers): 
    JACK Quartet
  • Keywords: 


  • Program notes: 

    It is a "sonic" transcription based on J. S. Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge BWV1080, Contrapunctus XIV. Die Kunst der Fuge is a compositional exercise of Bach, in which he explored different possibilities on fugal writing. Contrapunctus XIV is the last fugue of this research. It is a quadruple fugue, but it is an unfinished work that is ended abruptly when the forth subject is about to appear.

    Scholar claimed that there is a manuscript of the missing part called Fragment X (the tenth fragment). However, nobody knows the manuscript and what Bach would have written for completing this marvelous fugue. The lost Fragment X is indeed a fascinating musical enigma.

    The interactive dialogue and the intricate relationship of the linear choreographic movements among voices are the substances of the traditional fugue. To transcribe and reconstruct the fugal sonic relationship of that old and intellectual musical genre is my point of departure for composing this string quartet. My invented compositional technique- "Sonic Engraving" is deployed throughout the transcriptional procedure. Different from the usual concept and practice of transcribing a pre-existing work, the pitch and rhythmic parameters (much less harmony) are not directly used as the musical materials during the process of this transcription. Instead, the four completely different and distinct materials are used prevailingly in this movement: (1) bow positions, (2) glissando, (3) sound blocks, and (4) stretch tone & harmonics cloud. The distribution of those materials does not only for subversively transcribing the fugue of Bach, but also for create the aural distances.
    I dedicate this movement to Isamu Noguchi.




Total number of musicians: 
Musicians1st player2nd player



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