your body is a volume [2016-19]

string quartet [63’]

commissioned by the Westdeutschen Rundfunks for the JACK Quartet and the Wittener Tage fur neue Kammermusik


further reading

outside of time | inside the sound [dissertation colloquium presented for the degree of PhD at Harvard University, May 6, 2019]

Included in musicologist Rainer Nonnenmann's essay Neue Reisen ins Innere des Klangs in MusikTexte as well as his radio-essay Mikrovirtuosität: Neue Reisen ins Innere des Klangs on SWR2.

Featured on SWR2's Jahresrückblick Neue Musik 2017.

performance history

3/23/2018 - Hannah Walter, Olivia Momoya Resch (vl); David Schnee (vla); Moritz Müllenbach (vlc). Gessnerallee. Zurich, Switzerland.

3/22/2018 - Hannah Walter, Olivia Momoya Resch (vl); David Schnee (vla); Moritz Müllenbach (vlc). Gessnerallee. Zurich, Switzerland.

5/5/2017 - JACK QuartetWittener Tage fur neue Kammermusik. Witten, Germany.


“Timothy McCormack‘s your body is a volume seemed at first to be harnessing texture as its modus operandi. In some respects, it was an even more extreme form of texture than Bianchi’s, taking notions of grinding and croaking to their absolute limit, the quartet’s bows moving with eerie sluggishness, as though caught between lethargy and indifference. The work’s duration is entirely occupied with this remarkable stuff to the point where it almost seemed less appropriate to think of it as music as ‘bandwidth’. But as the minutes passed and the quartet moved along their glacially slow trajectory, it came more and more to resemble – i’m not kidding – a chorale. Modulated by the very texture itself, pitches and harmonies, even chords, seemed to be materialising – both the combination of sounds from the four players as well as spontaneously emerging from within each instrument – barely substantial enough to be tangible but perceptible at least, though retaining the possibility that they could be entirely imaginary. For nearly half an hour, like a vinyl record played back at a single revolution per minute, McCormack filled the Johanniskirche with wheezing, laborious strands of this almost-maybe impossible music, which never ceased to be simultaneously baffling and marvellous.” - Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik 2017 (Part 2) by Simon Cummings on his blog 5:4.

program note

The performer and their instrument form a single body. Attention is drawn to the positioning and proximity of the appendages of this body, as well as their effortful and glacial movements; the body in acute proprioceptive relation to itself. This body does not move through a space - it becomes the space; the body as the site of kinesthetic inscription. We hear the body in its sound, and the sound subsumes us.