-HLED is a conceptual work for solo violin written as a series of postcards to my close friend and colleague Kelly St. Pierre during her Fulbright residency in Prague. She found that she was mixing up three very similar-sounding—but ultimately very different—Czech words: vzhled (“appearance”), vhled (“insight”), and pohled (“postcard”); the last of which inspired the score format of the piece. The piece is written on three postcards (pohledy, 😉), which I sent in sequence from my home in Wichita, US to Kelly in Prague, CZ. In addition to the conceptual work, the physical wear and tear on the paper from having traveled 5000 miles through several postal systems is part of the composition.
The piece reflects on the playfulness and frustration of learning a new language: combining root words, suffixes, and prefixes in ways that can feel arbitrary to new learners but are still deeply meaningful to native speakers. In the work, the violinist selects from many possible combinations while always ending with the same musical suffix. Each recombination gives the final phase a different context, and therefore a different meaning.