Thread and Fray, a trio for bass clarinet, marimba, and viola, was written in 2006 for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. The piece weaves a unison melody through an increasingly fragmented musical landscape, occasionally splintering into subsidiary streams of thought. When I wrote Thread and Fray, I was listening to a lot of music by Louis Andriessen, an influence you can hear in the choice of instrumentation, the use of close canonic writing, and in certain aspects of the phrasing. The melodic material comes from a horizontal exploration of stacked major and minor sixth intervals, a harmonic world I’ve been preoccupied with since “discovering” it for myself in a string quartet I wrote in 2002.
"The opening piece by Sarah Kirkland Snider was as easy to understand as its music must have been difficult to compose. The low-toned ensemble of viola, bass clarinet and marimba, beginning in unison, created a canonic puzzle, splintering, coming together... The puzzle was almost like those floating colors of a Victor Vasarely painting, where directions were going in...well, every direction! A work of great skill and great fun."
Manchester Evening News
“We had a European premiere of Thread And Fray, by the American Sarah Kirkland Snider, and this (for viola, tenor sax and marimba) was the gem among the rest, with a real melody set against dancing, repetitive accompanying patterns and with a warm, tonal-style harmonic basis. Let’s hope there will be more where that lovely miniature came from."