Composer’s Notes: Kate Moore on Cicadidae

Published On: Wed 01 May

In 2019, through the Australian String Quartet Richard Divall Australian Music Fund and its generous donors, we were delighted to commission Australian composer Kate Moore to write her third string quartet. Here is what Kate Moore has to say about her piece.

Kate Moore
April 15 2019

When remembering the Australian landscape, the sound of cicadas fills the mind. Their presence is felt through their song. They are invisible to the eye. However, the music they make overwhelmingly floods the air on a summer afternoon.

Thousands of creatures are seemingly hidden, lying in shadows of trees and bark, under leaves, rocks, twigs and earthen cavities, singing out loud with all their might.

Sitting in the bush listening to the cicadas it is possible to hear the landscape by listening to their subtle orchestration, a sonic map of a vast land. You can hear near and far, the shape of ridges, valleys, cliffs and plains. By closing your eyes, you can hear where a waterhole lies even if it is out of sight. Where creatures congregate near water, the climactic intensity in which the dynamics of their song grows, attests to its miraculous gift of life.

Thousands of tiny creatures sing in harmony as the sun sinks below the horizon, their voices in revolution with the Earth as she lumbers on her journey from night to day, turning and turning and turning. The creatures are musicians. Their bodies are tiny resonating chambers, with silken wings stretched across an exoskeleton beating between the ghostly world of soundwaves and the emanating pulse of sympathetic resonance reflecting the concave and convex of material and matter.

They are tiny violin players whose pulse fluctuates with the temperature of change.

Allegro in the heat of day, adagio in the depths of night. They play together in perfect harmony, with hyper sensitivity to the miniscule intervals of just intonation perceived within the Earth’s nervous system. They play together in an orchestra of emotion and feeling, crying out for mercy that their creator will protect them because they don’t know what the future will be.