Egg & Tongue
string quartet [10’] 1994
Premiere: Lydian String Quartet, Princeton, January 17, 1994.
he ‘Elgin Marbles’, taken from the Parthenon, lie at the centre of a long-standing property dispute between Greece and the British Government. Encountering these sculptures in the British Museum for the first time, I was intrigued to learn that one of the decorative motifs adorning its carved stone form was known as ‘egg and tongue’. The sensuously rounded forms of eggs and tongues alternate and repeat along the borders of the monumental sculptures, an ancient pattern combining symbols of virility and fertility. The motif is widespread: several years later, walking through the ruined architecture of the Syrian city of Apamea, I found tumbled-down stones of Roman structures bearing this same pattern, rain-washed stones in a field of crocuses.
In the music of ‘Egg and Tongue’, I play with ideas of patterning and fragmentation, cultural property and style. Familiar motifs repeat, adorn, are lost and take new shapes.