Mixed Messages

for violin, piano, and electronics

premiered February 2, 2014
Sarah Thornblade, violin; Vicki Ray, piano
Bridges Hall of Music, Claremont, California


Mixed Messages celebrates the multiple meanings to be found in any object of our attention, the "yin and yang" that seem to be the root of every seemingly straightforward perception.

The piece obsessively plays with one simple but ambiguous 4-note chord, which contains a peculiar mixture of traditionally opposing musical elements: major vs. minor, consonance vs. dissonance. Throughout the piece the spacing of the chord often tilts perception towards one hearing or another. Its opening, marked "quietly ecstatic," is followed by moments of calm, passages of driving urgency, frantic dance and uneasy resolution.

The electronic sounds are all derived from samples of violin and piano. Their sources are sometimes obvious to the ear, sometimes not.

Mixed Messages was written for the sparkling duo of Sarah Thornblade and Vicki Ray.