Graffiti Canons

for SATB a Cappella Choir and Optional Slideshow

Written: 2015
Duration: ca. 12'
Instrumentation: SATB A Cappella Choir and Optional Slideshow
Graffiti Canons was commissioned by Volti, Robert A. Geary, Artistic Director. The commissioning of this work by Volti was made possible by the support of the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music.
World Premiere: March 11 & 12, 2016
PublisherBill Holab Music

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PROGRAM NOTES

 Although I have based many choral works on settings of poems, I also enjoy setting unusual texts. In many ways. graffiti is ideal as a source of inspiration. It is unpretentious, extremely varied and can be found almost anywhere: under bridges, in alleyways, on the sides of vans, in subway stations, and even in bathroom stalls. It may be illegal or sanctioned, artistic, text based, aphoristic, philosophical or purely graphic. It can be humorous, innocent and childlike, or very serious and meant to provoke. Graffiti may be of our time or ancient. Certain cave paintings, for example, could be considered predecessors to modern graffiti. Through graffiti, gangs, tribes or individuals can hide behind anonymity; it is the voice of the voiceless.

In Graffiti Canons , I appropriate positive aphoristic sayings, sentences and phrases found in graffiti from various parts of the world. My goal is to create a musical tapestry that flows from one thought to the next and spans time and place, using canonic technique and chorale-like transitions.

Although I found many of the graffiti images online, others I use in this piece were obtained via a Graffiti Photo Contest that I posted online. Approximately eighty images were submitted, and viewers were allowed to vote for their favorites, which played a part in which images were chosen. A handful of the most inspirational photos were used for this piece. An optional slideshow containing these images may be shown during performances of this piece.

Graffiti Canons was commissioned by Volti, Robert Geary, Artistic Director. The commissioning of this work by Volti was made possible by the support of the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music (annstookeyfund.org).

– Robert Paterson

Note: it is requested that the program note be reprinted in its entirety (including the commissioning credit) in all programs, recording booklets and also other instances in which printed matter accompanies performances of this work.