Caroline Mallonée:

The Butterfly Effect (2014)

The title of The Butterfly Effect comes from an oft-repeated trope: the beating of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil may cause a hurricane on the other side of the world; this may be extrapolated to imply that any action undertaken or any decision made may have unanticipated, far-reaching consequences.

The piece begins with a musical illustration of the beating of a butterfly's wings. After a journey (inspired by American and Scandinavian fiddling), the piece ends with the sound of rain.  The entire piece is played in just intonation (up to the 11th partial).  It is somewhat aleatoric, though all of the pitches are notated. 

The piece is part of String Tunes.


  1. string quartet or string orchestra

  1. CD, live electronics or off-stage performers (string quartet, harp, mandolin, banjo)

  1. 4-8 rainsticks


Duration: 7-10 minutes


The Butterfly Effect was commissioned by the Walden School for the Spektral String Quartet.  It was premiered at the Walden School in Dublin, NH, in July 2014.


It was played by The Buffalo Chamber Players at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in November 2015.


Named the winner of the Locrian Chamber Players 2016 Call for Scores, the piece was performed at Riverside Church (New York, NY) on June 11, 2016.


Performed on Live at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY in April 2017.


Programmed on the Roycroft Chamber Music Festival in East Aurora, NY in June 2017.

Interested in playing The Butterfly Effect?