Jack Body

Three Transcriptions for String Quartet

Long Gi Yi


Jack Body writes about his Three Transcriptions:

Over recent years I have become fascinated by the transcription of a heard music into a playable form of written notation. Through this process I believe I can better experience the music “from the inside out”, and understand how it functions. Inevitably, the resulting ‘reconstituted’ music is not a facsimile of the original but rather a kind of transformation, “filtered” through my perception of the original. I also allow myself some license to enhance what I consider to be important elements of the original.

Three Transcriptions is a collection of three different musics which I transcribed especially for the Kronos Quartet. The first movement Long Gi Yi is from a recording sent to me by a Chinese friend, featuring the long-ge, a multiple jew’s harp of the Yi people in South West China. The instrument is tiny, comprising three or more metal blades. As with other jew’s harps the melody appears in the overtones which are resonated in the mouth cavity of the player. Because the long-ge has multiple blades (i.e. fundamental tones), the music texture is a charming two-part counterpoint.

Movement two is a transcription of Betsimisaraka music from Madagascar played on an 18-string valika, a tube zither. This beautiful instrument exists in various shapes and sizes, and is related to the bamboo tube zithers of Indonesia and the Philippines. The performer on the original recording is Marorazana and the movement, with its engaging juxtaposition of simple and compound meters, is called Ramandriana. The third movement, Rarschenita, is a wild dance in 7/8 meter from the Shops region of Bulgaria. The performers in the original recording were from the village of Varna.


Jack Body (b. 1944)

After completing his master’s degree in music at Auckland University in 1967, Jack Body attended the Ferien Kurse fur Neue Musik, Cologne, and the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, Netherlands from 1968-1969. From 1976-77 he was guest lecturer at the Akademi Musik Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and since 1980 has lectured at the School of Music of Victoria University, Wellington, now the New Zealand School of Music. His music has been played widely with performances in Australia, England, France, Holland, Canada, the United States, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Japan by such performers as Lontano, the Kronos Quartet, and the Shinsei Nihon Symphony Orchestra. He is particularly fascinated with the music and cultures of Asia, and Indonesian music has been a particularly strong influence on his style.