String Theory

for vibraphone and 14 string sections (2001)

Score and Parts

by Leanna Primiani



Perusal Score


c. 10 minutes


vibraphone, strings

Program Notes

In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. Wikipedia further elaborates: “String theory describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other. On distance scales larger than the string scale, a string looks just like an ordinary particle, with its mass, charge, and other properties determined by the vibrational state of the string. In string theory, one of the many vibrational states of the string corresponds to the graviton, a quantum mechanical particle that carries the gravitational force. Thus, string theory is a theory of quantum gravity.” String theory describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other.

This piece contends with string theory in a number of ways. First, most of the instruments are stringed instruments that create music literally through the vibration of strings. The only exception to this is the use of vibraphone, which generates vibration quite differently, through the striking of metal strips with a mallet. This piece generates within the string textures masses of notes and
clusters, whose central pitches are clarified functionally by the vibraphone, which usually announces the central pitch centers. However, as the piece grows and changes organically, each event has consequences for the event that is subsequent to it. It is as though each event carries in it an idea that is the musical equivalent of a graviton, pulling other pitches toward the central note or cluster, setting up new clusters and new events with new graviton-like pitch centers. The piece is therefore a quantum adventure.

String Theory is typical of her current work. Leanna creates the overarching musical structure using the concept of the Golden Ratio (φ). Using this idea of ‘divine proportion’ — found in patterns of nature — Leanna balances the sections and climax of the work according to time itself, rather than on the number of notes or measures. This phenomenon is especially relevant to this work, as it has
been argued that the existence of a Fibonacci code-like connection between the various coupling constants, charges and dimensionalities of superstrings and P-Brane theories.

-Robert Gross