for string quartet and harp

  • Night Strings
  • Cross Strings
  • Thin String – Little Song
  • Joy Strings

The world is made of strings. Strings like tiny, vibrating worms, open or in closed loops, are the building blocks of our universe. Science tells us so; the idea is known as string theory.

When I first heard of string theory, I pictured something quite different. Instead of microscopically small worms, I saw long, beautiful strings stretching across space—across the universe. The image fired my imagination. What incredible music must emanate from those strings, if only we could hear it!

This piece is about 63 tangible, highly visible strings. Forty-seven belong to the harp and four more to each of the instruments of the string quartet. These strings are of wire and gut. On the harp, they are set vibrating with the fingertips, a plectrum or the fingernails. On the other instruments, they are usually stroked into life with a horsehair bow, although even here they can also be plucked with the fingers (pizzicato) or struck with the wood of the bow. Naturally, all these techniques sound different. The place where the string is activated also affects the sound. Near the fingerboard, the sound is more muted, muffled. Near the bridge, it is richer in overtones. The variations are innumerable.

This piece is titled “All Those Strings!” In it, all 63 visible strings sound together in a variety of combinations. And those vanishingly small strings I spoke of earlier surely vibrate alongside. According to the latest science, they exist in no fewer than nine dimensions!

– Karin Rehnqvist

(English translation by Robin Blanton)

All Those Strings! was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, and was premiered by them and Ritva Koistinen, playing kantele.

This version for harp is dedicated to Mercedes Gomez.

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