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Handshake: A Scherzo (2008)

for solo soprano, Pierrot ensemble, large percussion | 06:00

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Anonymous

See also

Anti-Social Music (Bandcamp) [2011]

For soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion (timpani, tam-tam, slapstick).

Handshake was composed in homage to the earlier sounds of the Information Age: the dissonant, dual-tone multi frequency (DTMF) sounds on a touch-tone telephone that we all pressed to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb as kids; dial tones and off-hook warnings; the infamous Captain Crunch 2600Hz whistle; the "handshake" of a 56K modem connecting to the Internet, which was usually the first sound I heard in the morning throughout the 1990's (I referred to it as "my song"). These much-loved sounds are wrapped rhythmically and harmonically in the ubiquitous sequence of powers of two, and packaged with lyrics from the "Lorem Ipsum" -- dummy text used for hundreds of years in print publishing, but now most commonly found on websites in development.

Artwork by Matt Dunphy.


  • 07 Oct, 2022: DePauw University at Kresge Auditorium at the Green Center for the Performing Arts, Greencastle, IN
  • 12 Feb, 2022: Helix Ensemble at Shindell Choral Hall, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
  • 02 Apr, 2017: Arcana New Music Ensemble at Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA
  • 04 Mar, 2011: Anti-Social Music at Zoraspace, Park Slope, NY
  • 06 Feb, 2009: Melissa Dunphy, Sarabeth Taber-Miller, Jordan Hale, David Brown, Shannon Rafferty, Chrissy McHugh, David Trum, Daniel Paul Lawson at Gates Recital Hall, West Chester University, PA