Violin Sonata ("863") (2022)

​Listen to the piece

  • Instrumentation: Solo violin, piano (video below uses electronic piano).

  • Description: In the fall of 2021, one of my friends introduced me to a YouTube web-series called Project: 863, which follows a team of YouTubers as they discover the dark past of the company who previously owned their building, Syntec. I enjoyed watching it so much that over Christmas, I started sketching a Violin Sonata inspired by various events, characters, and lore from the show. I did not use any of Michael Badal’s music he composed for the show, opting to create a completely original piece. Like the show, I wanted this piece to be full of hidden secrets for musical detectives to unearth, just as the team does with Syntec on the show. Some of these are better understood through music theory, while others could be thought of more philosophically, possibly relating the different sections to Deb’s Subjects, the hauntings of season 3, or anything else one might think of with the show.

  • The decision to have the piano part be performed by the computer (MIDI and electronics in Logic) was one I made mainly so I could focus on practicing the violin part. However, in the end, I believe it helped fit the vibe of the show, and, judging by the YouTube comments I’ve gotten on it, it was effective to help with contrast throughout the piece. 

  • The piece is divided into three distinct movements with an “863 chorale” joining them together. This chorale introduces us to the world with three double-stops in the solo violin: an octave, a sixth, and a third. The piano takes these intervals and combines them into a chord, which retains its shape throughout this chorale-like melody.

  • The first movement follows a strict sonata-allegro form with a slight intensity about it. The first theme is based on the opening double-stops, taking the top notes and turns them into a brisk melody. The rest of the movement builds on that with an opposing lyrical second theme, a development of both themes, and a recap, where the second theme is played at a slower tempo. The movement ends with several reiterations of those opening chords, which helps transition neatly into the second chorale. This is a truncated version of the first, down a half-step and with the solo violin softly emphasizing the melody. 

  • The slow movement emphasizes chains of sevenths, mostly existing as a separation between the music before. It has one simple climax, which fades back into the final chorale, taken on by the solo violin alone. The finale is a fast-paced romp which returns to those opening double-stops with a fresh melodic take. About halfway in, the piano bangs out a single chord in a rhythmic pattern: first 8 times, then 6, then 3. Meanwhile, the violin interjects with the left hand in a string of sevenths (referencing the second movement) in a retrograde of this pattern: first 3 notes, then 6, then 8. The following section builds to a climax, where the violin plays the “863 chorale” partially. It is interrupted by the coda, which rises and falls, landing on three distinct Gs to end the piece, as if to say: “8 – 6 – 3.”