Rough Ride

Ensemble: speaking cellist
Duration: 12:00

“Hindman made Rough Ride, played with impressive poise and sensitivity by cellist Craig Hultgren, in similar fashion, using bystander video from Gray’s arrest for both spoken words and pitch sources. Rough Ride is more abstract and more powerful, the cello line shining and abrading, like fiberglass threads, the fragmented text outlining a sense of tragedy.”
~George Grella, “Dorothy Hindman’s range of expression on display in retrospective,” The New York Classical Review, March 09, 2016


Rough Ride (2016) refers to a form of police brutality in which a victim is helplessly thrown
around the interior of a police vehicle by deliberately abrupt police driving, while unable
to protect themselves due to handcuffs or other restraints. Freddie Gray died in the back of a Baltimore police van on April 12, 2015 from spinal cord injuries. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts reported that contrary to the department policy adopted six days prior to the incident, Gray had not been secured in the van while driving to the police station. From

A bystander video of Gray’s arrest shows him being held against the ground with his leg bent, and then being dragged into the van and lifted inside.  Gray screams eight times in the background of this video; there are eight corresponding sections in Rough Ride.  Gray cries out “my legs” and “my ribs, yo, my ribs,” while the bystanders’ protests are also captured in the foreground of the video.  Through spectral analysis, the frequencies and amplitudes of Gray’s screams provide source material, pitches and dynamics for Rough Ride.  A microtonal scale rather than a traditional 12-note chromatic scale is used to capture the ‘pitches between the pitches’ that make up the sound of Gray’s cries.  The music of Rough Ride, like the video, is quietly, yet powerfully disturbing.

Premiere: March 8, 2016
Craig Hultgren
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
Commissioner: Bent Frequency