Tenderness and Rot

For viola and pre-recorded electronics


written for Roselyn Hobbs for New Music Mosaic Timbre Volume 2

Premiered on June 3rd, 2022


three minutes

Program Note

As I was finding inspiration for this work, I came across Kay Ryan’s poem, Tenderness and Rot. I was particularly intrigued by the first stanza: ‘’Tenderness and rot share a border. And rot is an aggressive neighbor whose iridescence keeps creeping over.’’ I interpreted this as the premise of the poem – this notion that polar oppositions find ways to coexist, and in fact, are dependent on each other. In my piece, the work explores the relationship between warmth, and tenderness: ugliness, and harshness. 

The work is scored for solo viola and a pre-recorded track. The track consists primarily of viola samples and some electronic sounds. Both elements continue to find juxtapositions. The live viola alternates between rapid notes in an unstable and erratic manner while playing natural harmonics filled with resonance and outlining a consonant major chord. The track plays harmonies that sound very consonant, but it explores both coldness and warmth in the tone simultaneously. You will also hear quarter tones lingering that oppose the overall consonant feel of the work. It is my hope that a listener will find beauty in this piece with all the opposing elements that somehow work together.