for string quartet

and electronic and concrete music


KARMA was composed between February and August of 2004. I first had the idea for this composition after one of my unfortunately very rare musical dreams. In this dream that I had in December 2003, I heard instruments softly and independently playing microtonal music. From time to time, the instruments joined together, then split apart again.

 This is what the string quartet players do in KARMA. They have to independently play musical patterns using quarter-tones, and meet at three moments in time.

 I added the electronic and concrete music not only as a different voice, but also as a musical and emotional teaser, when the string quartet players have to choose among the patterns.

 In the Hindu spirituality, the “karma” is the fundamental principle according to which each life is one among the parts of a chain of lives, each life being determined by what has been accomplished or missed in a previous life. In each life, there is a mixing of free will and predetermined events or meetings.

 The same mixing occurs in KARMA. I propose to each musician a pool of several patterns – 3 for part 1, 5 for part 2, and 8 for part 3 –, in total 64 patterns, as many as the I-Ching hexagrams. These 64 patterns, as well as the electronic music part, constitute the predetermination aspect. But each musician chooses :

which pattern he plays, 

when he plays it, 

how often he plays (he also has a choice between repeating the pattern 5, 8, or 13 times), 

and how he plays it (tempo, dynamics, timbre effects, etc.) 

This is free will. Just as two lives cannot be the same, even if the basic material remains identical, two performances of KARMA are necessarily different. Therefore, I highly recommend this work to be performed twice during a concert.


I dedicate this work to the memory of Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973), called and known as the Mother. During 30 years, she was the companion and collaborator of the poet and evolutionist philosopher Sri Aurobindo. After his death in 1950, she ruled the ashram in Pondicherry, founded the international city of Auroville in South India, and continued, within her body, the spiritual and physical work Sri Aurobindo and her had begun. In the electronic and concrete music part of KARMA, one can hear her voice 4 times, reading verses of Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem “Savitri”, or talking with her friend and confidant Satprem.

KARMA was premièred on 13th November  2004, at the Ciurlionis Museum of Kaunas in Lithuania, as part of the International Festival of Contemporary Music "IS ARTI". The Kaunas String Quartet performed KARMA twice.

The Kaunas String Quartet & Paul Dirmeikis, in Kaunas, on 13th November 2004

From left to right :

Saulius Bartulis (cello),

Dovilé Sauspreiksaityté (viola),

Karolina Beinaryté (violin),

Paul Dirmeikis

Dalia Terminaité (violin)





Extract 1 Part I

Extract 2 Part II

Extract 3 Part III