Clarice Assad


(2021) Clash

For String Quartet & Bandoneon

A piece for string quartet & bandoneon exploring states of discord

Duration: 12 minutes | Commissioned by Music Accord for the Takács Quartet  & Julien Labro

I wrote CLASH  between 2020 and 2021, a turbulent period for many brought by a world health crisis, social distancing, the collapse of the economy, riots, and political turmoil—stressful occurrences with one central theme at its core: Conflict. This piece explores states of discord such as struggle, disagreement, dispute, and division. 


I modeled this dramatic composition on imaginary friction between two human beings, basing much of the musical material and phrasing in human speech and predictability on human behavior, such as behavioral matching and contrast. Emotions influence language, and as listeners, we react to the speaker’s emotional state, later adapting our behavior depending on what emotions the speaker transmits. Arguments, bickering, violent insults, interruptions, yelling, appealing to guilt, and over-pleading are constant themes in this work. 


The music travels through fiery passages of dissonance vs. consonance and tackles indirect moments of discordance: The idea of not being heard while speaking; bursts of anger forcefully make the other party retaliate or retreat.  

Episodic in nature, CLASH  gravitates towards tension more than understanding, though such moments happen periodically, as, for every conflict, there must be a resolution. This work’s moments of peace and agreement are musical passages of a quasi-diplomatic character; they act as neutral or pleading intercessors between escalating clashes of wilfulness and stubbornness.  

a dark and sometimes noisy expression of the opposed complexities and difficulties of the present, tossing fragmented elements back and forth among the participants.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer



Other works of similar nature include “O” for voices and violin, commissioned by violinist Johnny Gandelsman, and the string quartet Glitch, commissioned by the Delgani String Quartet

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