Thread and Fray



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.

December 15, 2021

International Clarinet Association

The third track 'Thread and Fray', a tonal trio for viola, bass clarinet and marimba by Sarah Kirkland Snider, offers a slower pace than the previous works. This piece opens with a unison melody that is then traded, fragmented and passed around the ensemble using a variety of canonical compositional techniques...[showcasing] the strong lyrical and melodic playing styles in the middle-register instruments."

Natalie Szabo
May 1, 2021


Third on the record is the lovely "Thread and Fray:,,,which shows off the individual musical sensibilities of this group. A simple melody snakes along in juxtaposition with an increasingly disjointed and intentionally unstable accompaniment shared across the ensemble, showcasing the stunning control and thoughtful phrasing of each performer.

Andrew Allen
January 9, 2018

New York Classical Review

"…An important representative of 21st century trends in composition…"

George Grella
January 8, 2018

"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."

Harry Rolnick
January 7, 2011

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

"Thread and Fray [is] a tautly constructed and poignant work, interweaving short motives with a sensitive intimacy...I was left wanting to know more about her and her music."

Liane Curtis
April 1, 2009

The New York Times

"['Thread and Fray' was] angular and gracefully expansive…”

Allan Kozinn
November 22, 2007

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."