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Footnotes to a History of Music | SATB Chorus with divisi | 10'

Footnotes to a History of Music sets a poem by contemporary writer Kristina Marie Darling. Here, a string of footnotes tell a fictional tale of strange hymns, canaries interspersed within an orchestra, and a mysterious fire.


While soloists from within the chorus alternate singing and speaking words to tell their tale, the chorus illuminates the background and missing pieces of the story using only neutral syllables and wordless melodies.


This piece was commissioned by Choral Chameleon (Vince Peterson, Artistic Director) and premiered at St. Barts Chapel in October 2018. This recording features Erika Lloyd and Liz Hanna, sopranos; Kelly Baxter Golding and Emily Crowe, altos; Alex Canovas,  Matthew Finkel, and Matt Robbins, tenors; and Joseph Bellino, Jared Graveley, and Vince Peterson, basses. 

Purchase this piece for performance through Graphite Marketplace.

Similar to Footnotes to a History of Music:





1. A printed form of musical notation, made up primarily of symbols.

2. When she unfurled the score, a sequence of unfamiliar chords sounded, that incandescent singing.

3. “Only then did I wish to document the strange hymns I heard that evening. I longed for a record in all of its officiousness.”

4. Arrangement.
   1. A thing composed of various parts.
   2. An agreement, settlement, or understanding.
   3. An adaptation for performance.

5. In this nineteenth-century stage production, canaries appear alongside instruments in a more conventional sense: harps, violins, and cellos. Despite the decorative nature of the feathers, the conductor struggled to contain the unruly birds.

6. Amanuesis. Meaning the physical labor of transcribing music.

7. “I began to understand the role of the unconscious mind in his process of composition. It may be compared to an iceberg submerged in a large body of water.”

8. The phonograph, with its projection of unusual bird calls, was regarded as an evil device. This hidden Faustian motif extends well into the novel's denoument, with its intricate diagrams of the concert hall.

9. At this point in the score, the notes are obscured by fire damage. A residue of ashes where the music once was.


—Kristina Marie Darling

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