Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.


Fragments of Noir

for string quartet

Year:  2015

Year:  2015

Composer:   Robbie Ellis

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Pages 3, 4, 8 and 9

See details ➔


To borrow items or hire parts please email SOUNZ directly at


Alongside composing, I create improv theatre as a music director. At the beginning of 2015 I moved from Auckland to Chicago for greater opportunities in this field.

I do enjoy it when improv and composing cross over – this string quartet is not the first time I’ve incorporated a theme which I had created in underscoring theatre. My first weekly gig in my new city was Those Who Can’t, a jam open to teachers at The Second City Training Center. I’ve been privileged to play alongside some of Chicago’s most experienced improvisers, all comfortable with one another, and all so welcoming to this Southern Hemisphere newbie.

The opening theme in Fragments of Noir comes from the Those Who Can’t of 10 March 2015 – it supported a scene in a gloomy urban environment, with restrained emotions and few words. For this string quartet I developed the original material to reflect further elements from film noir: unstable peace, tragic violence, and as a counterpoint: an obliviously happy limping waltz.

Another influence – this one was subconscious and I didn’t realise it until after the first performance – was Chicago’s history of organised crime, including Prohibition-era figures like Al Capone. I had recently learnt a lot of that history for another one of my jobs: tour guide.

Fragments of Noir was written at the request of the Jade String Quartet, and its composition was funded by the Wallace Arts Trust.

Commissioned note

Written with funding from the Wallace Arts Trust.

Performance history