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American Mirror for String Quartet

American Mirror reflects on the coming together of cultures in our society, which consists of many generations and descendants of refugees, immigrants, and slaves, and how intercultural collaborations are essential to the well-being of American society. Melodically, the piece draws from West African, North African, and Eastern European vocal techniques and ornamentations, in addition to modal scales. Underneath these melodies, American Mirror uses open harmonies commonly found in Appalachian folk music, and also includes drones, an accompaniment practice found in many musical cultures. American Mirror is written in two parts.

Part I asks for the audience and/or Quartet members to sing drones in two sections. This singing symbolizes the support we could give to one another, encouraging every individual to reach their full potential. American Mirror must be workshopped with the audience before a performance. Time must be allotted for this. This is not necessary if the decision is made to have only the Quartet members sing or play the drones. Part I includes a hymn- like melody in the length of 7 measures rather than the traditional 6 or 8.

Rhythmically, Part II uses clapping as an accompaniment, continuing a tradition practiced in many cultures around the world. Part II uses rhythmic structures found in Hindustani (North Indian) classical music such as tihais (rhythmic cadences played three times where the last note of the third time resolves to beat one of the cycle) and dumdhar chakradhar tihais (a longer rhythmic cadence that may include tihais, played three times where the last note of the third time resolves to beat one and there is a rest between each repetition). Part II also uses an eight beat cycle called adi tala, found in Carnatic (South Indian) classical music. Towards the end of the piece, a portion of the audience is invited to mark the shape of adi tala using their hands, a practice found in Hindustani and Carnatic classical music.



Violin I
Violin II